Saskatchewan’s telephone call centre industry has emerged as a dominant force in the provincial economy. The number of people working for call centres in Saskatchewan has dramatically increased over the past five years, with more than 8,000 people drawing pay cheques from 150 companies. Service provided through the call centres ranges from accepting catalogue shopping orders to activating cellular telephones and processing credit card inquiries.
The call centre market is fiercely competitive. Incentives to lure a company to a community often involve a financial package that includes training and tax breaks. In addition, a 2004 study by the KPMG consulting firm concluded Saskatchewan was one of the most cost effective locations to do business in North America. The same report also concluded that Saskatchewan has one of the most productive and reliable labour forces in Canada. Saskatchewan job tenure—or the measurement of how long an employee remains with a company—consistently exceeds the Canadian average by 25%.
The KPMG study results are reflected in the experience of Staples, an office supply company, since moving to Saskatchewan. Staples began with 100 call agent positions and grew to over 750 jobs in just four years.
Regina became StarTek’s fourth Canadian location and complements other StarTek facilities in Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Forbes magazine named StarTek one of America’s top 200 Best Small Companies for 2002. StarTek’s clients are predominantly in the software, Internet, E-commerce, technology and communications industries. In 2003, StarTek retrofitted the third floor of the former Eaton’s department store in the Cornwall Centre in Regina and installed 520 workstations at a cost of $5 million.
In 2004, GC Teleservices Canada Corporation established a 250-job call centre in Saskatoon. GC Teleservices and StarTek are both predicting an increase from their initial employment numbers.