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“A strong back and a lunch bucket no longer lands a job.”

When Orlando Perez of Skyview Learning Group first reached out to me regarding the industry, I immediately wondered what I could write about a local telemarketing company that hasn’t been written – both the good and the bad. To my surprise, Orlando’s new company was designed to not only boost the regional telemarketers by delivering solid employees, it was also designed to deliver a promise of job security to many who have long ago given up on that dream. “When you really look at the local market,” Orlando started. “You have a number of different levels of telemarketing companies, from the magazine subscription sales, to the bill collectors, to GEICO to Ingram Micro. All of these companies are having a tough time finding qualified employees, believe it or not. Then you have a city with higher unemployment levels than many other cities and you wonder where the disconnect it.”

That’s where Skyview Learning Group comes in. “We are here to offer a four week training course to those who are looking for a secure job,” Orlando continued. “Think of the high school student who dropped out and never pursued further education. Or the blue-collar worker who lost his or her job. Telemarketing (call centers) is a booming industry in Buffalo, and we need to be sure that we have the ways and means to fill the positions. I’ve worked in the industry. I know who is showing up for the interviews. These potential employees need to know how to speak, listen, problem solve and dress appropriately. These courses are free and are paid for by funds being released for workforce development intended to bolster the economy. These are jobs that for some are long-term, reliable sources of income. For other people, these are jobs that can earn them some money while going back to school.”

It looks like Orlando is onto something that could be good for Buffalo in a bunch of ways. Take all of the people who are unemployed, underemployed or on welfare. Then you think of the upper echelon jobs that require track records, experience, references and/or resumes. Barrier to entry can be tough! For many, the option is purely ‘how to live off the system’. “I’ve talked to people who want to work for a living,” Orlando told me. “But they don’t know where to break into the workforce, and they don’t have the basic necessities to do it. In four weeks we can deliver an entry-level worker to a telemarketing employer. We started in that field because we are aware of the current need to fill positions with people who are committed to learning and working. If someone completes our course, then they are ready to walk through the front door of an employer and fill out an application. From there they have the tools to stay in the position. We even monitor our course graduates for 90 days to make sure that they are doing alright.”

Orlando reminded me that turnover within a call center is high. He pointed out that the majority of ads that you see in the paper these days are for medical related jobs and call centers. “The factory jobs are not coming back,” Orlando warned. “Our region will never turn around until we reinvent ourselves and accept the fact that telemarketing is an industry that can get people off of unemployment. In a city with disappearing industry, that’s imperative. The last time I looked, GEICO needed 300 people. These companies are the factories of the ’50’s. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, but you do need to know that if you don’t show up on time that job won’t be around for long. If we can continue to offer an employee pool that appeals to the call centers, then they will stick around and provide jobs. Buffalo has cheap real estate, a fiber optic hub, and a genuine work ethic. Unfortunately there is a disconnect – we need to retrain our working mindset and provide skill sets for this new industry. A strong back and a lunch bucket no longer lands a job.”

Skyview Learning Group is setting up programming at community centers in Buffalo to tap directly into the neighborhoods. Visit the company’s website to learn more.   

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