It seems that the golden age of call centers in Albania has come to an end: the largest companies in the country are cutting employees, while the first entrepreneurs entering the market in this sector are selling their businesses.
To date, according to the General Tax Directorate, 659 companies are registered operating in the call center sector. Compared to two years ago, when their number amounted to 817, there was a decrease in 20%.
As a result, the number of call center employees also fell, passing - as reported by Monitor magazine - from the 25.000's 2016 to 22.266 in the first quarter of this year.
For many years, Intercom Data Service (IDS) has been at the top of the country's call center ranking. In the 2014, the company even offered employment to young 3600, while today the numbers are almost four times lower (970 at the end of March).
Olta Qosja, sales manager at IDS, explained for the Albanian business magazine Monitor that digitalisation has reduced the need for customer service. According to her, in fact, companies are creating more and more technological products, where most work processes are automated.
"The companies, which receive call center services from Albania, no longer require services with human resources, but digital services. " - says Olta Qosja.
All this has led to a reduction in work in particular for incoming services (inbound) and, above all, to cuts in personnel and a reduction in revenues.
The effect of the new laws
In April 2017, the Italian government approved the anti-delocalization law by changing the rules for call centers located outside the EU, and therefore also in Albania.
The main objective of the new decree was to curb the continuous transfer of numerous call centers in countries - such as Albania - with clearly advantageous labor costs that had led to an employment crisis in the sector in Italy.
The decree obliges call centers to inform the user about the location of the operator who speaks on the phone and, in the event that the customer requests it, obliges them to immediately transfer, without attaching, the call to an operator located at within the Union. For violations of these rules - but also for the failure to notify delocalisation - penalties of up to 150.000 are envisaged.
However, for many operators in the sector, it was the law against "wild calls" (December 2017) that had the most impact on the call center sector, particularly for smaller companies. In fact, all those who no longer wanted to receive phone calls for commercial purposes, from 1 in January 2018 were able to register at the "Public Register of Oppositions"To avoid them.
"Customers in Italy have the right to register on a list, where by law they can no longer be called for commercial calls. This is not respected by many companies, which to benefit from their own damage the image of Albania."- says Lorenc Goga, head of"“, One of the largest companies in the sector.
The high fines for those breaking the rules have become a fear for companies operating in Albania, as confirmed by the same Goga:
"If before we were increasing the work in our branch in Tirana compared to Italy, now the opposite is happening. We are hiring more people in Italy than in Albania."- emphasizes Goga.
One of the main difficulties encountered in the sector is the unskilled personnel. Today the 20enni Albanians do not know how to speak Italian, thus losing the main advantage of Albania.
The generation of the 80 and early 90 years who learned Italian by themselves did not follow, and today most young people are growing up without the Italian language. To cope with this phenomenon, Lorenc Goga told Monitor that he had spoken with the Italian embassy, to make sure that the Italian language is part of the school programs:
"We have many difficulties in recruiting for lack of human resources. In our company, operators must know the Italian language at a good level, because among other things financial products are also processed.
Young people are no longer studying Italian and, also for this reason, we have had a reduction in the number of employees. If today 200 people with good knowledge of Italian presented themselves, I would hire them all."- said Goga.
Another major concern for the sector is represented by theemigration, a major obstacle for new hires in the sector:
"Emigration is another big problem. Young people are leaving for a better future, creating great inconvenience for the call center companies they want to hire."- added Goga.
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