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Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced yesterday that a new coalition of call center companies and organizations called Jobs4America will commit to creating 100,000 jobs within the next two years. Jobs4America includes the American Teleservices Association, ACCENT, Alpine Access, Sprint Nextel, and other call center industry companies. 13,000 of the jobs were annnounced on Thursday, with 2,000 at Accent in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Technology Enables New Opportunities

Genachowski attributes the possibility of these jobs being created to the advent of widespread broadband access:

“We’ve been pushing broadband deployment and adoption so strongly because it’s essential to job creation,” says Genachowski. “We see broadband expansion creating new jobs, and on-shoring jobs that have moved overseas.”

He also related the following analogy about how monumental the spread of broadband is:

“Bringing broadband to your town and home in the 21st century is like bringing in electricity in the 20th — connecting you and your community to the larger economy and opening up new worlds of commerce and opportunity.”

Broadband access allows large amounts of data to be transferred quickly from households. VoIP technology lets agents answer calls with increased functionality and much lower costs. With advanced call distributing software and telework solutions already on the market, call centers are able to utilize home agents as if they were in an actual call center. Virtual call centers are staffed with home or remote agents that can use cloud based software tools to perform knowledge base searches, request maintenance, or other actions. Video conferencing, social networking, and chat technologies are all things workers will likely need to use.

Helping the Downtrodden

Many of the jobs will be going to workers in more remote areas, where local economies are small and jobs can be scarce. For these people, all that’s needed is an Internet connection in order to earn a relatively high $13/hr. In addition, unskilled workers, homebound mothers, and transitioning workers, and the disable will also likely benefit from remote call center jobs.

David butler, a director at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Call Center Research Lab, characterized the average call center agent:

“The typical worker is an in-betweener: a high school diploma plus some college. The pay is much better than a minimum-wage job, and the benefits can be pretty good.”

As companies find decreased service levels and angry customers often result from offshored and outsourced call center services, more businesses will likely turn to these “homeshoring” options that use American workers in nontraditional working arrangements. These arrangements save money through elimination of infrastructure, administrative, utility, supplies, etc costs.
Genachowski made the hope behind this initiative clear:

“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.”

What’s your opinion on the new call center job coalition? Will they be able to match their 100,000 job creation targets? Could homeshoring be a viable option for your business’ call center? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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