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Will call centres soon become an industry of the past?

Credit: PA Images

There are several things at play here but it has certainly gone wrong for Virgin in Swansea very quickly.

Just five years ago they were expanding, and talking about long term investment in the city. Today that's all gone.

I asked Virgin why they are expanding in Manchester not Swansea and they said the quality of the transport links there were a key factor in choosing the location.

Now that's sparked frustration in Swansea with workers, businesses and city leaders - given electrification of the line west to Swansea has been cancelled by the UK Westminster government. The Council Leader Rob Stewart says that it is costing jobs.

Today’s announcement deepens our concern about failure to invest in rail electrification to Swansea and the competitive disadvantage caused by HS2 in England.

It is now more vital than ever than we deliver the City Deal and the many thousands of jobs this will create. We are about to implement a growth deal that addresses skills and digital connectivity issues which will be key for the future.

– Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader

Over 30,000 people work in contact centres in Wales. It's an important sector but its changing fast.

We've already seen over 1,000 jobs go at Tesco's call centre in Cardiff.

First Source who handle calls for Sky have made redundancies and Barclays too. Artificial Intelligence is coming in, we're seeing fewer people handling more complex calls. We're seeing companies consolidate like Virgin shrinking eight centres into four today. But industry insider Sandra Busby say Wales has a "great reputation' and she remains optimistic about the future.

Swansea has an emerging tech sector focused around Swansea Tech Hub. Tech entrepreneurs like Matt Warren say contact centres will go the way of coal and become an "industry of the past". He is calling on the government to follow New Zealand's lead. It has a far more advanced tech sector than Wales- with companies like Xero valued at over a £1bn.

Their government has a Minister for Technology reporting to the Prime Minister at the heart of government and the same importance should be given here or Wales will be left behind.