Atelka holdilng job fair in Sarnia, Friday and Saturday

By Paul Morden, from  The Observer

A job fair to fill 300 positions at a new call centre in Sarnia was two hours away from opening its doors Friday morning, and Atelka CEO Georges Karam was already feeling pleased.

The Montreal-based company began accepting resumes on its website after announcing a little more than two weeks ago it’s setting up its eighth Canadian contact centre at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park in Sarnia.

“We have, already, a lot of resumes for agents and for supervisors and for site directors,” Karam said.

“I think we’re going to have a great day today.”

Friday’s job fair in the research park’s conference centre was set to run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday,10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Job seekers were being encouraged to show up with resumes and Karam said they plan to begin hiring by mid-February, begin training in early March and begin operating in early April.

Karam said they look at several criteria when locating a contact centre in a community, including the facilities available, but most important is the quality and experience of the workforce.

“We found that Sarnia has all of it,” he said.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, and other local officials, gathered at the research park Friday morning to welcome Atelka to town.

“They’ve already had a strong response,” Bradley said, “with 300 resumes coming in, online.”

Staff at the county-owned research park, and the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, had been working to attract a new call centre at the facility since a NCO call centre closed there in 2012, putting 500 people out of work.

Karam said Ontario’s announcement of a coming raise in the minimum wage will have an impact, but added Atelka only pays workers that rate during training.

“Once the agents is trained and ready to go on the floor, they are paid more than the minimum wage.”

Karam said he wasn’t able to give an exact wage rate Friday for what agents in Sarnia will be earning.

But, he added, Ontario’s move to a higher minimum wage “is something to consider for our future expansion.”

Founded in 2003 by two Montreal entrepreneurs, Atelka employs more than 2,000 people at sites in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

“Any time we open a centre, we look at it for the long-term,” Karam said.

“We have a very success record for staying in the cities that we select.”

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