Skip to content
Hays - Recruiting experts worldwide
  1. I am
    I am

Graduates turning to UK call centres to get a foot on the career ladder

Perceptions of career progression opportunities in call centres increases significantly compared to 2009, attracting highly qualified professionals

  • 43% of call centres have seen a rise in graduate applications in the last 12 months
  • 35% of workers are educated to degree level, up 10% from 2009
  • 58% of agents want to develop a long-term career in the call centre industry
  • 54% of agents believe call centres offer a clear career path, compared to 40% in 2009

UK call centres are attracting more graduate employees, according to new research by the recruiting expert Hays Contact Centres, in conjunction with the Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service initiative. Over two in five (43%) call centre managers have experienced a rise in graduate applications over the last twelve months and 35% of call centre workers are now educated to an undergraduate university level, compared to 25% in 2009.

The level of interest from graduates is not surprising, given that there are currently around 70 graduates for every job vacancy compared to just 31 graduates in 2008, suggesting that graduates are making a smart move in turning to UK call centres for employment opportunities.

According to the survey of 286 call centre professionals, working in the industry offers a real chance for career progression, with 54% of call centre agents agreeing they have a clear opportunity to progress beyond their current position, compared to just 40% in 2009. Over half (58%) stated they would like to develop a long-term career in the industry and the signs are encouraging, as 55% of UK call centre managers started out as agents.

The survey also suggests that graduates will benefit from excellent training and development opportunities in the call centre, as 65% of managers spend more than 20% of their time coaching or training team members, and one in four at least 40% of their week.

Simon Thorpe, Programme Director at Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service, said: “There are record numbers of graduates looking for work this year and it’s encouraging that so many are attracted to the call centre industry. UK call centres offer excellent training opportunities and competitive salaries, plus the opportunity for graduates to develop their careers and move up the ladder, both within the call centre and across the wider organisation.”

Graduates joining a call centre can look forward to a highly interactive environment, according to the survey. When asked about the one aspect of call centre work they enjoy the most, 65% stated that it was the interaction, whether with colleagues (37%) or customers (29%). An impressive 75% said that they would recommend a career in a call centre to a friend, indicating high levels of job satisfaction.

However, graduates should factor in the softer skills that are needed to be successful in a call centre. When questioned on the number one attribute they look for in new employees, 45% of call centre managers said a positive attitude, followed by customer empathy (17%) and good communication (16%).

Geoff Sims, Managing Director of Hays Contact Centres, commented on the findings: “Call centres are becoming more demanding of their staff so it isn’t surprising that the profession is attracting more people with degrees, particularly when we are still faced with a challenging economy and high unemployment levels, A clear career path is always a strong draw for graduates and it is positive that the call centre workers clearly thrive on interaction with customers and colleagues so they can put their strong communication skills to best use.”



Survey methodology

Hays Contact Centres surveyed 286 call centre workers across the UK in August 2010.

About Top 50 Call Centres

The Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service initiative is a benchmarking programme, in partnership with GfK Mystery Shopping, one of the UK’s leading independent market research organisations. Its goal is to help call centres to measure themselves on what the general public thinks a good calling experience should be. It is based on over 18,500 mystery shopping enquiries.

The Institute of Work Psychology at Sheffield University and the Manchester Business School supports the Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service programme by providing an independent analysis of the results.

Now in its third successful year, The Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service is an exciting initiative designed to create one benchmark for customer service excellence and transform the public perception of the contact centre industry. For further information visit

The Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service is a benchmarking initiative, created to improve the performance of call centres and instil best practice across the industry. The initiative is supported by Jabra, the leading headset provider, and Genesys, a provider of customer service software for call centres.

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

As at 30 June 2010, the Group employed 6,845 staff operating from 270 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2010:

  • the Group reported net fees of £557.7 million and operating profit of £80.5 million;
  • the Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 180,000 people into temporary assignments;
  • 26% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 30% in Continental Europe & RoW and 44% in the United Kingdom & Ireland
  • the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and the United Kingdom.

For further press information, please contact:
Alizia Walker
Wildfire PR
T. 020 8339 4420

Claire Fowler
T. 020 7259 8821