Need work? Move to Minot

It’s said that, ultimately, all politics are local.  So too, unsurprisingly, is the issue of employment.

In a twist of irony hard for many of us to swallow I’m sure, a technical call center in Minot, North Dakota is closing down because–brace yourself–the employer cannot find enough workers for a proposed expansion.  Ergo, 200 current employees lose their jobs because 250 more could not be found.

Readers may recall my article a while back on relocation.  When the economy shifts, for whatever reason, there’s a good possibility that imbalances will pop up here and there between employer needs and worker availability.  In the Great Depression this led to trains swarmed by desperate itinerants hopeful that work lay at the next station or beyond.  The US has not reached that point yet but the fact remains that losses at Point A typically result in needs at Point Z.  For a certain number of people losing their homes, a job opens up for a collection agent.  An inescapable and natural cruelty.

Why Sykes Enterprises originally chose to set up shop in cold, bleak, remote Minot I’m not sure.  I’ve driven through North Dakota.  There’s nothing there.  Apparently, that includes call center techs.  However, they do have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

What’s also missing from the linked story is how far and wide Sykes actually looked (only a local search is mentioned), and what possible incentives may have been offered to potential candidates.  If Sykes was serious about keeping the Minot center open, might they have bought up mortgages for prospects who were “underwater”?  Could they have dangled relocation packages?  Made the salaries too attractive to resist?  Better yet, offered work from home– wherever that may be?

Odds are the center did not provide enough value to support certain expenditures, but I’m speculating.  Still, one wonders if the original need just went away, too, or if Sykes will try to expand at another location.  That was also missing from the story, leading me to wonder just how soft and easy journalism schools have become…


2 responses to “Need work? Move to Minot

  1. funny to read this. funny from my POV. it’s the same with our company. we have call center locations all over the country, but it’s particularly hard to find good employees in one city where the technical hotlines are located. the plans to close down this one location for this very reason re-appear (and, thank god, disappear) again every 2-3 years.

    i understand the logic. as a company, your primary goal is not to keep a certain site, especially if you could easily provide the same service elsewhere. if in the end it causes more trouble to stay there than to relocate, why should you? yes, most probably you could do more to attract employees, but why should you if you can find people easily in another city?

    in our case, we’re lucky. they decided (once again) we’ll stay here, mainly because the one “difficult” city happens to be the capital and they want to be there for PR reasons. but that’s 2009. 2011 can be totally different.

    as a side note: i’m involved in the recruitment process, and it’s really difficult to find good people. there are lots of candidates, but 98% can’t talk, don’t have any social skills, are not reliable (as in: being late regularly, being ill twice a month, quitting after 4 weeks…) and just don’t know enough about computers to work on a technical helpdesk. it’s frustrating when you read abolut growing unemployment and still can’t find the people you need. there’s something fundamentally wrong in this system. 😦

  2. Hey, thanks for commenting Benny! 🙂

    I know what’s wrong with the system in the US: we were encouraged in the 1970s to leave the farms, get an education (particularly in engineering) and join the modern world… which was fine as long as businesses sustained that, but once jobs could be located anywhere they quickly were. This led to a surplus of US citizens in creative professions and thus a deficit in new students pursuing those avocations. Combine that with how government meddling has nearly destroyed our public education and you get the kind of situation we’re describing.

    Of course, it’s not quite that simple really but a more detailed observation calls for its own article…

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