Employment in Cape Town's call centre and business process outsourcing industry has grown by well over 20% each year since 2005, with nearly 6 000 new jobs created in the industry during 2007-2008.
This is according to the fifth Key Indicator Report for the industry, co-produced by CallingtheCape and Deloitte.
The survey of 215 companies found that total employment in the industry grew by 26% during the year under review, with the number of agents growing by 29% to 20 428.
Offshoring is responsible for 36% of the industry's growth over the last five years: 15% of agents in the industry now work exclusively on offshore programmes, as opposed to less than 1% in 2002.
The survey notes that "South Africa is now a favoured offshore location for UK companies offering multi-lingual capabilities like Dutch, French, German, ortuguese and Italian to the European market."
The UK is the most common foreign country to which services are provided, followed by the USA, Germany and Australia. Many companies serve multiple offshore markets.
The survey also found that "Cape Town's labour market is responding very well to the challenge of providing increasing resources to this growing industry."
Entry-level salaries do not appear to have increased significantly and the attrition or staff turnover rate, while higher than in previous years at an average 17,3%, is nevertheless far below the 30% to 40% prevailing in the UK and US. Other offshore destinations have rates of 80% to 100% or even higher.
The industry's demographic profile broadly reflects that of the city as a whole, although middle and senior management skills are still in short supply and white South Africans are over-represented at these levels.
"This is one of the areas where we believe CallingtheCape needs to play an important role," says CEO Sipho Zungu. "During the next year we will engage on behalf of the industry with reputable training organisations and academic institutions to find ways to fill this need for middle and senior management skills.
"At the same time, companies need to show greater commitment to employment equity at management level, creating mentoring programmes where necessary."