Industry Research : Business Outsourcing Boosts Western Cape
The business process outsourcing industry in the Western Cape has continued to show relatively impressive signs of growth, with the sector in the province growing by about 13% over the past year, increasing from 33,500 jobs to 38,000, the latest official industry report has shown.
The 2012-13 official industry report for the business process outsourcing or contact centre industry, issued last month, shows that the industry in the Western Cape contributes in the region of R8bn to provincial gross domestic product.
Business process outsourcing, of which call centres are a major part, involves a company contracting the operations and responsibilities of specific business functions, such as customer-related and administrative functions, to a third-party service provider.
The fifth Industrial Policy Action Plan has identified the call-centre sector as one of the key focus areas where significant domestic capacity and opportunities exist, together with other sectors such as clothing, textiles, leather and footwear.
According to the industry report, the industry serves as a sustainable source of employment for the province with 81.5% of customer service associates being employed on a full-time, permanent basis.
The UK market is responsible for 61% of such offshore business in the Western Cape, a 4% decrease from 2011-12, while the Australian market grew from 4% to 9% in 2012-13. The report states that 82% of offshore work conducted in the Western Cape is done in English, showing no change from 2011-12. The report says South Africa is well known for its cultural similarities with the UK, Australia and US markets, "making it an ideal customer service destination for English interaction".
"It is envisaged that ‘omni channel usage’ such as social media, web chat, speech self-service and smartphone applications will play an increasingly prominent role in customer service, with companies becoming more customer-centric," the report states.
Western Cape finance MEC Alan Winde said last year was an "amazing" year for the industry, with three of the world’s largest outsourcers setting up operations in Cape Town.
Gareth Pritchard, the CEO of Business Process Enabling South Africa Western Cape, said much of the sector growth had been driven by offshore business, with more than 3,000 jobs created over the past year. "This growth, attributable to international firms, continues to attract brands such as Amazon, Asda, iiNet, Shell, Lufthansa and Shop Direct to the Western Cape. We expect more major brands to enter the market in the year ahead."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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