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Albania, one of the best countries for multilingual call center outsourcing in Europe
During the last decade call centers in Albania have created hundreds of thousands of jobs, especially for the youth. They have been the best source of income for students that needed to pay rent, cover university fees, and afford a social life. In a nutshell, call centers offered both economic and social independence to the Albanian youth in Tirana, and other large cities like Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Vlora, Shkodra, and Gjirokastra.
Based on statistics from INSTAT (2014) and our research, an estimated 800 companies that vary from small organizations to some of the biggest employers in the country, operate in Albania and provide employment to 30,000-35,000 people.
City light boards in Tirana advertise major music events in the capital’s clubs and promotional campaigns from call center companies.
They draw attention to teasers like:
“We can help you achieve your career aspirations” or smarter ones like this “Are you waiting for a job to fall from the sky?” This is addressed to people without any job experience that is looking for a good job, but can’t land one because of the ‘no job – no experience – no job’ loop.
Some of the most tempting recruitment strategies are on-street promotions, where young girls ask: Are you looking for a job? Do you speak Italian? Feel this form and we’ll get back to you soon.”
Albanians are multilingual
The most obvious reason why Albanians excel in the call center world is their excellent verbal and written communication skills in Italian and other languages, such as English, German, French, and Greek. No one asks you: Hey can you speak any other language? They ask: How many other languages can you speak?
Italian is widely spoken at the level of mother tongue throughout the country. Greek is mostly spread in the southern and southeastern regions. English is the most known language. Foreign language is one of the A-Level exams along with Mathematics and Literature in high school. Meanwhile, Albania has seen an increased number of people who learn German, French, and Spanish.
Reasons to choose Albania as a Call Center destination
- Cheap workforce, lower income tax rate
The second most obvious reason is related to the cheap workforce and lower income tax rate. A call center operator in Italy would receive three times more compared to an operator in Albania. For many years, Albania struggled to create a proper model of doing business. Meanwhile, international companies in cooperation with Albanians took advantage of the free market access, strategic location in South-Eastern Europe, the favorable tax system, competitive workforce, and the supportive legal framework of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
- You don’t need a university degree to get the job
Call center companies do not require a university degree to employ people. However, due to the reform of the education system in 2007, the majority of Albanians aged 20 – 35 have a university degree and basic knowledge of English and Italian languages.
- You need basic knowledge of Italian or English languages
After the fall of communism, Italy was Albanian’s first hope for a better future. Being very close in the geographical aspect, Albanians have since been familiar with Italian TV programs and thus the Italian language. Most Albanians have basic knowledge or understand basic Italian.
- Possible job for Albanian returned emigrants
The EU’s economic crisis in 2008 caused the return of many Albanian emigrants from Italy and Greece to Albania and the decrease of remittances. This led to confusion and increased the number of unemployed people in the country. Albanians who had lived in Italy found call centers a very good opportunity to find a job and get engaged in the job market in the country. Meanwhile, even the number of Italian students that study in Albania has increased during recent years.
- Albania – a promising outsourcing opportunity for English, Italian and German companies
The reason why Italian companies have increased their presence in Albania is due to the fact that Albania has favorable labor and living costs and is Italy’s neighbor in the east. Currently, most of the Italian-owned call centers operate with Vicidial and Watson computer programs and offer different kinds of client services starting from the payment of energy and water bills, market research and surveys, telephony client services, etc. The history of call centers as a new way of doing business starts back in 1991 with the opening of the first call center in the country, in the Albanian language. The then culture of promoting services and products through call centers was new but it developed with huge steps after 2005. In 2005, Agron Shehaj, an Albanian student returned from Italy after finishing his studies and opened Intercom Data Service (IDS), an Albanian – Italian-owned call center. It is one of the biggest businesses in this field and has employed thousands of young people, rising to 3,000 in 2015. After the opening of IDS, additional Italian and foreign call center companies followed and opened their branches or new companies in Albania, to start operating as middlemen between businesses and clients.
Detailed information about the call centers that operate in Albania is difficult to get.
The delocalization law in Italy
The Italian government pressured Italian companies that outsourced their services in countries that aren’t members of the European Union when the law on delocalization was adopted by the Italian Parliament. The law aims at reducing the dumping phenomenon in the call center sector as it affected the job market and profits for the Italian economy. The law defines penalties up to Euro 150,000 for companies that don’t declare the phone call country of origin.
This law was expected to have an impact on the sector, but its administrators remain optimistic. Some of the call centers registered as financial institutions and now they are running as Forex sales call centers.
Currently, there are three call centers with the highest number of employees in Albania:
Intercom Data Service: 3,000
Albania Marketing Service (Teleperformance): 1,800
They also rank among the ten private Albanian Companies with the highest number of employees.
Call centers in Albania offer services in the following languages:
Call Center languages
Outsourcing customer services and technical support has been trending in Albania. European culture and a system already established are welcoming for further companies and investors.
When looking at job search sites, many job openings are available from various call center operators. The most popular job portal in Albania is njoftime.com, which list’s every job available in the call center sector in Albania.
Read also: Outsourcing Services
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