Firm hiring UK graduates to staff Indian call centres

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The Independent Online

A UK firm is recruiting British graduates to work in Indian call centres for a few hundred pounds a month to help satisfy the demand from banks and insurers who are moving thousands of call centre jobs abroad.

The London-based firm, Launch Offshore, which used to help businesses set up call centres in India, now focuses on recruiting young people from Britain to work in India. Workers earn 11,000 to 30,000 rupees a month - about £150 to £400, less than a quarter of the average salary in the UK.

Tim Bond, the managing director of Launch Offshore, pointed out that living in India was a lot cheaper. "[Recruits] get a far better package than they would if they were working in the UK. Their accommodation and flights are paid for. The cost of living is seven times lower than in Britain, which means their value of lifestyle is much higher."

The firm has so far recruited 15 people, with another 10 in the process of signing one-year contracts.

Featuring at the top of the company's website, which tries to lure Britons in their early twenties, is the story of Kenny Rooney. The Scottish history graduate quit his £21,000 a year job as a manager for Sky Television in April to work in an Indian call centre. He now earns the equivalent of £380 a month but, writing in the Daily Record, says he is having "the experience of a lifetime".

According to a survey by Evalueserve, India faces a shortage of up to 120,000 call centre workers with European language skills over the next five years.

Amicus, Britain's largest private-sector union, said the recruitment of British graduates to India reflects the difficulties experienced by UK companies moving jobs abroad of finding good English speakers in India.

The union's national officer David Fleming said: "What this website does demonstrate is that evidence is mounting against the proponents of offshoring who have been shouting from the rooftops about the never ending supply of cheap, educated English speakers in India.

"Major UK financial services companies have tied themselves to an offshoring strategy which they will find increasingly difficult to sustain."

A spokeswoman for the National Outsourcing Association denied there was a skill shortage in India, but admitted that the turnover of staff was high due to the low pay, which meant constant training of new staff.