Unemployment among South African youth is a widely known reality: It is
estimated that among 15 - 34 year olds, 36% do not have a job. This places South
Africa as third in the world with regards to the global youth jobs crisis*.
Yet despite this bleak picture, there are pockets of opportunity that give young
people - who dont have tertiary education or extensive work experience- a chance.
A case in point is within the fast-growing South African BPO (Business Process
Outsourcing) industry, or as its more commonly known, contact centres.
At last count, BPOs contributed R9-billion to the Western Capes GDP and
created 41 000 jobs (BPeSA) - largely among young people who want to upskill
themselves and accelerate a career. Based predominantly in Cape Town, the BPO
industry is thriving both locally and among the offshore market.
Mogamad Gierdien, Operations Director for SA Commercial, one of the leading
BPOs in the country, explains, "Our industry is an economic gem: Its in an upward
growth cycle, creates thousands of jobs and significantly adds to the local GDP.
Despite this, its potential to uplift South African youth is not that well-known and
flies under the radar.'
SA Commercial for instance has a staff complement of 170, each representing
clients such as Capitec Bank, Old Mutual and The Western Cape Government. "Staff
are exposed to big businesses when they join us. This affords them the opportunity
to work across a range of diverse industries and carve their career. We put plenty of
focus on training so they can confidently act as their clients most trusted partner,
and offer mentoring to guide them,' says Gierdien.
Voice training remains a key cog in the contact centre communications wheel too
and, despite the evolving digital landscape that includes email and social media
channels clients "still prefer an old-school telephone call or, for a modern twist, web
chat,' says Gierdien.
As such, SA Commercial has teamed-up with Helen OGrady drama academy to
train its team on voice techniques, tone, annunciation, pronunciation, and voice
range. "We resemble a band warming up for a concert, complete with practice runs
of "doh-ray-me'! Its good fun, creates camaraderie and, of course, warms up the
staffs voices so they can master their calls.'
Besides these unusual tips and tricks of the trade, SA Commercial is also
committed to the upliftment of its staff. "As a company, were a close knit-team.
Were also a family-run business which is why we place so much emphasis on staff
well-being and personal growth. Our MD, Renee Keeble, is a great mentor - inside
and outside of the office - and she hosts regular one-on-one sessions with staff so
as to motivate and empower them,' says Gierdien.
Its attention to detail like this that is reaping notable dividends for the company
- especially in a fast-growing and competitive industry where staff turnover can be
high. "Our staff turnover is below the market average. This is testament to our focus
on people development and to providing a stimulating atmosphere where young
people can grow professionally,' concludes Gierdien.