Pioneer call-centre course students graduate from FNU

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FNU’s College of Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies (CBHTS) Dean, Prof Arun Elias (3rd from left) with BPO Council Executive Director Shagufta Janif (4th from left) and pioneer graduates of FNU’s Basic Operations in a Call-Centre (Level 3) program. Picture: SUPPLIED

The first cohort of students who undertook the Basic Operations in a Call-Centre course graduated from the Fiji National University (FNU) this month through the Fijian Government’s Reskilling and Upskilling initiative.

The Level 3 program was designed by FNU in collaboration with the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Council and launched by the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service, Communications, Housing and Community Development, Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in December last year.

Graduate Kelly Miriama Waqabaca said the students were grateful that they were able to undertake the course and acquire the relevant knowledge, skills and work ethic to work in the call centre industry.

“From this training, we have also gained the confidence that is required to handle all types of customers in any call centre,” Waqabaca said.

“The prominent guest speakers invited to share with us brought with them first-hand knowledge and up-to-date information that helped us prepare well for the workforce.”

“We also acknowledge the Fijian Government, who through the Ministry of Economy has funded this course so that people who lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic were able to reskill or upskill themselves.”

Waqabaca also acknowledged the lecturers and support staff of the College of Business, Tourism and Hospitality Studies (CBHTS) who were part of the seven-week programme.

Asenaca Miriama Christine Fue added that she found out about the course online and was glad when she was accepted into the program.

“After the Orientation session we had with management teams from various call-centres, I was able to secure employment at Mindpearl,” the mother-of-two said.

“I used to work in the call-centre industry before COVID-19 and so this was an opportunity to receive a qualification and receive additional training before I rejoined the workforce.”

BPO Council Executive Director Shagufta Janif, who was chief guest at the certificate ceremony, said the programme also highlighted the Council’s commitment to education and skills development in the contact centre environment.

“This sector could become one of the biggest contributors to our economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). During COVID-19, we saw the tourism industry taking a hit, so this is an industry we can work on that could protect the economy and create jobs and bring in more prosperity for Fiji,” Janif said.

“In 2019, the contact centre workforce consisted of about 3,000 people employed in the sector but post-pandemic, our numbers earlier this year showed that there are about 7,000 people employed in the sector.”

“There is a lot of government support and if we continue to have this support and good tax incentives and education incentives like what the Government has given through the 5,000 TVET at FNU scholarships that we have, then we can forecast that in the next 10 years, at least 100,000 people will be employed in this sector. That is the potential we see in this sector.”

CBHTS Dean Professor Arun Elias highlighted that the College identified the BPO sector as one of strategic importance to the institution.

“We are glad to collaborate intensively with the BPO Council and are thankful for their leadership and help in developing this course,” Prof Elias said.

“This is a good example of industry interaction and we work closely with BPO after each course duration to evaluate the programme and update the teaching resources to incorporate any new materials to reflect the current needs of the industry.”

Prof Elias added that over 100 students have enrolled in the course in the three phases offered through the Reskilling and Upskilling scheme.

“Many of the students have provided feedback that they are now employed in the workforce and we believe this highlights the relevancy and timeliness of offering such courses,” he said.

“We hope to develop this course further in close collaboration with the BPO Council to stay aligned with market needs and trends.”

During the program, students learn the functions of a call centre, how to deliver excellent customer service to enhance quality service, the efficient use of online software to process basic customer data at a call centre, proper keyboarding skills, effective communication techniques and how to apply technical skills and work ethics required to operate professionally in a call centre environment.

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