BT go for growth as new Belfast contact centre will create 165 jobs
Over 160 new full-time contact centre jobs have been created by BT in Belfast to work on campaigns and operations across the UK.
The 165 staff, who will be employed on fixed-term contracts, will be paid around £18,000 at the company's second 'BT Flex customer contact centre'.
They join 100 existing staff who are already working at the company's existing Flex centre at its headquarters in the BT Tower.
BT said the recruits will work "across any part of BT that requires additional resource for short-term campaigns".
A spokeswoman said they will be on fixed-term contracts but could later be made permanent.
Invest NI's Jobs Fund and the Department for Employment and Learning's assured skills programme is backing the new jobs with support of £693,000 and £150,000 respectively.
BT Northern Ireland chief executive Colm O'Neill said BT in Northern Ireland had campaigned for the jobs to be in Belfast instead of another UK location.
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"Our first BT Flex centre located in BT's Riverside Tower has been a great success and we are delighted that BT Group has chosen to expand our operation at this location to meet our growing demand for skilled and experienced advisers."
The company's contact centres in India are occasionally singled out for criticism for a lack of language skills among staff, and for taking too long to deal with inquiries.
But the BT spokeswoman said the jobs were new posts and had not been relocated from elsewhere.
Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said the decision reflected the trend for "near shoring," with companies which had located call centres overseas now deciding to set them up closer to home.
He said Northern Ireland staff are also recognised for their skill in customer service – even if costs are higher than locations such as India. "When you stack all that up it (India) is still a lower cost operation but when you balance the customer service element it makes this a much more attractive proposition."
First Minister Peter Robinson said that BT's investment in Belfast after considering other sites came amid other positive signs for the economy. "Even the economists are starting to be positive, and that is a big move," he said.
Recruitment of advisers and managers will start before the end of the month and training will start when the centre opens in the New Year.New jobs: BT's new centre will open next year