Thanks to Broadband, Call Center Jobs Initiative Seeks to Add 100,000 Positions


A newly announced group, Jobs4America, has announced a goal of creating 100,000 jobs over the next two years, largely from bringing call center work back from overseas, InfoWorld reports.


FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski joined a kickoff ceremony in South Bend, Ind., on Thursday, touting the wonders of broadband, which makes this possible:

Broadband is to contact centers what electricity was to the communication sector, or what television was to the news and entertainment industries - a breakthrough technology that can reshape entire sectors of the economy.

The U.S. Jobs4America members announced more than 13,000 jobs at the Thursday event, including 2,000 at Jeffersonville, Ind.-based Accent Marketing Services in the next two years, with 1,000 of them working at home. Sprint Nextel announced 600 jobs.


It's no secret that customers tend to dislike calling support lines at all and give particularly poor marks to those offshore. Yet the savings companies find from offshoring that work has been hard to ignore. So companies have been moving some work back home, though AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson created a dustup a few years ago by saying the company couldn't seem to find U.S. workers with the appropriate skills.


My colleague Ann All pointed to a recent McKinsey Quarterly piece citing a trend of moving IT work from large metropolitan areas in the United States or Europe to less-populated and lower-cost areas. Its accompanying map showed the lowest U.S. labor costs are in the South and the Midwest.


In a separate post, Ann mentioned the high turnover rate for call centers, surely something that companies have to address. As an example, she said the turnover rate at Ohio-based iQor was 45 percent, less than half the industry average. [Emphasis mine.]


It's not clear what the positions created through the Jobs4America initiative will be, though The Associated Press mentions that the Accent Marketing Services jobs, located across the river from Louisville, Ky., will pay about $13 an hour. While that seems pretty paltry to folks living in major cities, many people in outlying areas of this country would call that a good wage and appreciate it. With economic fears still rampant, this initiative adds to the glimmer of hope in a better-than-expected July jobs report.


In an interview with AP, Genachowski said:

It's our hope that this is not going to be a one-time thing, but that this is part of a virtuous cycle of job creation and demand generation that will lead to more job creation.