The BPO industry is a rapidly growing source of employment for many young Jamaicans. But do you really know what it’s like to work in one? Can working in a call centre be a solid career path for young Jamaicans?
“Business process outsourcing, or BPO, is a business practice in which one organization hires another company to perform a process task that the hiring organization requires for its own business to operate successfully” (searchio.target.com).
Why People Choose To Work At Call Centres
In a Gleaner article dated 2018, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that “more than 30,000 people are employed directly in the sector.” He also added there is the potential to do more.
This is true, there’s room for more growth within the industry. And sadly that’s all because there aren’t many other job opportunities in the country to begin with.
And let’s not ignore the fact that the popularity of opportunities in these call centers is dependent on people’s inability to find decent jobs that don’t hit them with request for unreasonable qualifications and 10+ years of work experience in a similar field. It also hones in on the innate human need of self-preservation and desire to be a productive member of society.
No wonder so many people flock these jobs.
Who Exactly Works At a Call Centre?
The age of these individuals ranges from 18 years to 26 years, and in some cases even older.
I’ve seen firsthand the melting pot of individuals in a call center environment, along with the various circumstances that bring them into this space.
You have recent high school graduates, who can’t afford to further their education, coming to these centers to earn and save some money in order to achieve that next step.
Then you have the recent college graduates (like me) who are having a hard time getting a job in the field that we spent 3-4 years studying for, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in our apparently failed attempt at securing the bag in our preferred industry.
The reality is that we are not all fortunate enough to pick up our dream job right away. And with adult responsibilities so quickly thrust upon us, not to mention the mountain of student loan debt, one of our only options is naturally a call center.
Then, of course, there’s another set of persons: young mothers who really need this opportunity to provide for their child/children. Of all the people working in a call center, I think I admire their tenacity the most. They are strong and push harder than most of us because they have a whole lot more to lose.
You have many other groups of people present but we can keep these groups in mind for now.
Also, let me be clear: I am not a fan of call centres and until recently, where circumstances beyond my control led me to start working at one, I would have never considered working there.
That said they do still provide some people with a foot in the door of the work force. And while the conditions may not always be ideal, at least it’s something, right?
What About The Working Conditions
Now that I’ve mentioned the word “conditions,” let’s talk about a few I have observed and that maybe others have observed as well.
There is the lack of physical space to put all the new hires, with lunch rooms fighting with the locker rooms for breathing room.
Then, the amount of work done is not nearly equal to the compensation that is given for it.
Next up there’s the limited room for upward mobility, unless you know someone who knows someone.
Let’s not forget being treated as a number, and not a person.
And of course, my all-time favourite, the major health risks due to stress from the job.
And please don’t get me started on the improper sanitation.
Here’s My Conclusion About Call Centre Life…
I mean, I do understand that jobs don’t come around every day, but at the same time shouldn’t the ones we have access to meet certain requirements? Shouldn’t we be able to work in an environment that’s both challenging and comfortable? Shouldn’t we be able to share our ideas on improving the quality of the company and circumstances under which we work?
Until you’ve experienced working in a call centre firsthand you won’t be able to fully grasp the concept of what goes on behind the scenes of those flashy ads on social media. All the interview parties in the world can’t compare to what you actually face when you enter the actual space.
At the risk of not sounding too biased, please feel free to share the experiences you’ve had at a call center. If they’re similar to mine, that’s great. Also if you are considering entering a call center don’t be deterred. Everyone has a different experience, and this was mine.
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