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3000 new jobs: Coast's push to become call centre capital

Sunshine Coast-based insurer Youi will move into its $68 million Sippy Downs global headquarters at the end of November. The company says the more big call centres on the Coast the better for employment and the economy.
Sunshine Coast-based insurer Youi will move into its $68 million Sippy Downs global headquarters at the end of November. The company says the more big call centres on the Coast the better for employment and the economy. Warren Lynam

INSURANCE giant Youi, which pays out more than $80 million in wages to its Sunshine Coast-based staff, says this region would make an ideal home for three or four other businesses like it.

The company is set at the end of next month to move into the first stage of its $68 million global headquarters at Sippy Downs which would initially be home to up to 1700 staff.

On completion up to 3000 staff would be accommodated over four levels in a building with back-up systems for power, water and data.

Youi currently employs 1000 staff working out of premises at Bokarina, 80 per cent of its total workforce, with centres also in New Zealand and South Africa.

CEO Frank Costigan said he was surprised more big financial service businesses didn't relocate to the Sunshine Coast, saying it offered enormous benefits in terms of work-life balance, a better quality of life and more affordable living costs for staff.

He said call centre operations everywhere had a staff turnover in the order of 20-30% annually.

Would you work in a call centre?

This poll ended on 30 October 2017.

Current Results

Yes, it would be a great place to work

45%

No, but I know a lot who would

21%

Please don't call here again

32%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Youi was no different, losing people who went in search of more opportunities.

Mr Costigan said with limited options here many of those skill sets were being lost to the region.

Rather than seeing more call centre operations as competitors for staff, he said their presence would allow workers looking for more opportunity to migrate between jobs without having to go to Brisbane or Sydney.

"It's harder on your own," Mr Costigan said.

"I respect and understand when staff want to shift for other opportunities and proud we have been able to develop their skills.

"But it would help if the banks and other insurers had centres here.

"They outsource offshore to the Philippines and India when they could look to areas like this.

"There is a very significant wages differential but at Youi we see the trade-off in terms of service quality and better customer outcomes."

He said Australians talking to other Australians allowed his staff and customers to build a rapport through shared and understood experiences, something that was far more difficult to do when dealing with someone from another country.

Mr Costigan said the presence of a number of big employers like Youi would see councils and state governments become more willing to invest in public transport and road infrastructure if there were a number of large operations generating significant levels of employment.

Stellar Asia Pacific runs call centre functions for a number of client from its Homemaker Centre premises in Maroochydore.

Account manager Gui Lombardo said the goal should be to keep the beautiful Sunshine Coast full of employment opportunities.

Stellar employs 327 staff with Mr Lombardo saying any cross-skilling which retained staff in the region would be fantastic.

Auto & General, which employs more than 250 staff at its Birtinya contact centre, has been on the Sunshine Coast for the past 10 years.

It is building a new premises adjacent to its Innovation Parkway offices to meet its growing needs.

Construction is scheduled for an Easter, 2018, completion date.

Through its flagship brand Budget Direct, the company has been a long-term sponsor of the Kawana Surf Club and will be holding a Boardies Day this Friday to raise funds for the club

Topics:  banks editors picks employment frank costigan sippy downs sunshine coast youi



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