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First Minister Alex Salmond today visited the Glasgow offices of Webhelp UK, one of the UK’s largest contact centre companies, headquartered in Scotland, to welcome the announcement of 400 new jobs for Scotland.
Webhelp UK was awarded a £1.5m RSA grant from SDI Scotland to support the creation of 400 new jobs in Scotland, which will be a rolling programme of job creation over two years. See the interviews with the First Minister and David Turner, Webhelp UK CEO below.
The First Minister also saluted the pilot project of a jobs skills initiative – the Customer Experience Academy – that has brought employment to a category of the unemployed who couldn’t reach the first rung of the jobs ladder.
The First Minister met a group of Scottish qualifiers from the ambitious trainee programme.
Webhelp UK’s Customer Experience Academy gives vital additional pre-employment training to a growing number of job seekers who lack the necessary communicative knowledge to pass the standard entrance level of most employers.
Backed by Skills Development Scotland, the Webhelp UK trainees completed a five week workskills course – with a job interview by the company on completion.
Those who made it through are now not only employed full time by Webhelp UK, on a standard wage, but are also supported through a modern apprenticeship, which takes 12 months to complete.
In addition the trainees gained a recognised Customer Service qualification, which would assist them in finding a job with a variety of other employers should they wish to develop their careers with other organisations in the future.
The pilot scheme has been so successful that the company is looking to roll it out across its estate. Webhelp UK is also recruiting two managers to help lead the scheme across the UK.
As the First Minister congratulated the trainees from the pilot project, Webhelp UK CEO David Turner explained the driving force behind this company initiative.
“With a rapidly expanding business of over 6,000 people throughout the UK and plans to recruit 400 new team members in the next two years, we are in almost constant recruitment mode,” said Turner.
“We noted that there were a growing number of candidates who didn’t quite have the interpersonal skills to pass our recruitment tests. But they were only just failing. We felt that it wouldn’t take much to get them over the line and once they were in employment, they would blossom.
“With that in mind we devised our Customer Experience Academy where would-be recruits came in for a five week course which would get these people work ready.
“We decided to launch it as a pilot project. We have 137 people now in employment with us through the scheme, 51 of which are located in our Scottish sites. Whilst we’re not able to track all of the graduates, we know that many are also gaining employment elsewhere, in retail for example, on the back of having completed the qualification.
“It is an initiative which can bring employment to a part of our society which desperately needs it and I’m very proud that we have been able to turn the pilot project into a nationwide campaign.”
First Minister said: “Four hundred new jobs across the central belt of Scotland is fantastic news. It means economic boosts in Glasgow, Larbert and Kilmarnock.
“In particular, it offers our young people enormous opportunities. I know Webhelp are keen to target young people for a large number of these jobs, in the hope they remain with the company for many years and are supported in their ambitions to learn and make progress. That is a long-term commitment providing long-term chances for Scotland’s young people and as such is a very welcome development.
“Already, they’ve begun to make a head start and have recruited the first 50 of these 400 new positions, with 350 more to come over the next two years, and I’m very pleased that £1.5 million financial support from Scottish Development International has been leveraged to help support this programme.
“In addition, the company’s creation of a Customer Experience Academy to equip young people with the skills they need for the world of work. Scotland has made big progress overall on youth employment but if we are to maintain this momentum we all need to work together. Webhelp UK’s academy is exactly the kind of initiative that will make a real difference in the months and years to come.
“Webhelp UK’s expansion is based on the success of their existing workforce across Scotland and provides further proof of the attractiveness of Scottish skills and Scottish staff to foreign investors.”
Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International, said:
“Projects like this are exactly what RSA funding is intended to support –investment in Scotland’s economic growth and jobs for our people, in particular our young people.
“Alongside Skills Development Scotland, we’ve been working with Webhelp UK to support their efforts to expand the Scottish arm of the business. It’s very rewarding to see that support leading to a successful conclusion.
“We look forward to working in partnership with the company for many years to come.”