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Specialist Qualification For Manawatū’s Growing Contact Centre Industry

By UCOL on Tuesday, 03 August 2021

UCOL Business Lecturer Cheralyn Sorrell (standing) is with Iris Clayton. Simone Wareham (background)

Nearly 2,500 people are employed in contact centres across the wider Manawatū – but the industry is still calling out for more staff. Thankfully staff and jobseekers can now gain a qualification with the recent launch of UCOL’s Certificate in Customer Experience Management (Contact Centre) (Microcredential).

The new programme has been created with the support from the Manawatū Chamber of Commerce Contact Centre Cluster Group, which has members from the majority of contact centres in this region. The group identified the need for more training and approached UCOL to develop a custom credential for them. 

The contact centre industry is an important sector for the Manawatū, with high demand for staff due to its rapid growth in our region. This growth strategy is also a part of Accelerate25; the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan.

UCOL’s microcredential aims to provide an accelerated pathway into the contact centre workforce for new staff and to update and upskill those already in the industry. It is one of UCOL’s newest microcredentials, aiming to offer short training courses to specialist areas with blended learning methods – on campus, online and on the job. 

The first three weeks of this 10-week Level 4 qualification is full-time and based in UCOL’s classrooms. Learners develop their customer service skills, understanding of equipment, and ‘soft skills’ like resilience, teamwork, and workplace etiquette. They then spend seven weeks on placement in a real-life contact centre.

UCOL Business Lecturer Cheralyn Sorrell says the placement period can be the perfect opportunity for employers to recruit new staff. “There is work out there for well-trained, work ready employees – there is a significant shortage of people to fill these roles. In addition, existing staff are encouraged to complete the qualification as it futureproofs their career and encourages their professional development.”

The programme’s first cohort was filled by staff from the Calls4Charity team.

Calls4Charity Centre Manager Dene Benham says the qualification is a welcome initiative for long serving and new staff alike.

Benham, who has worked in the industry for 14 years, says the programme is a good refresher for people like him who may have got a little complacent over the years. “It has helped me refocus and become familiar with new legislation and compliance,” he says. “The course is really valuable whether you are an old hand, or new to the job.”

Calls4Charity team member Simone Wareham has worked in contact centres for six years and says the programme fits in well with her work hours. “Plus I’m really excited to be one of the first to get this qualification.” 

The Contact Centre Cluster Group has been instrumental in supporting UCOL to set up this micro-credential, and are continuing to offer support and feedback to ensure the programme meets their training and workforce needs.
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