China Catching Up With India In Call Center Services

In 2007 employment at call centers in China should hit 158,000.

China is catching up with India in providing call center services, one of the fastest-growing areas of global outsourcing, Chinese state media and a research firm said Feb. 9. The number of employees at call centers in China is likely to rise 22% in 2007 to 158,000, while in India the work force is seen rising 16% to 312,500, Sydney-based research firm Callcentres.net said.

"The world is becoming flat," said Francis Scricco, senior vice president of Avaya, which has just set up an 'intelligent communication center' in northeast China's Dalian city. "More and more international corporations are entering the Chinese market, and more and more Chinese companies are expanding to other markets," Scricco was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

China seems particularly competitive in the call center area, with hourly costs per employee of just $3.62, against $4.24 in India and $18.46 in Singapore, Callcentres.net said in its report.

While China is widely characterized as being up against the formidable challenge of an Indian workforce with far better English language skills, the report seemed to suggest no particular Chinese disadvantage. As many as 93% of centers in China require at least a proportion of their agents to speak English to customers. Twenty-nine percent of call centers in China serviced international markets, against 33% in India, Callcentres.net said.

India, the global leader in outsourcing services, including software development and call centers, employs about 350,000 people in an industry that earned $6.7 billion in the year ended March 2005. India's global leadership in outsourcing is so far undisputed but its position may gradually be challenged because of rising costs.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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