More than 200 jobs are to be created in Sunderland as banking giant Barclays opens its first ever UK centre of excellence for fraud detection.
The company, which currently employs more than 1,200 people at Doxford International Business Park, is to invest in a refurbishment of the site to create additional capacity for new offices, through which it will handle calls with customers worldwide whose bank accounts or cards have potentially been hit by fraud.
The jobs will include a mixture of management, team leader and call centre positions.
It is anticipated the centre will be up and running by June, with recruitment beginning immediately and continuing throughout this year.
Barclays Sunderland site president Christine Allenson said: “Sunderland was chosen for the new fraud detection division because we have been able to prove the exceptional service we can provide to our customers.
“We are looking for people with life experience who are able to really connect with customers during what can be a difficult and emotional time, when there is suspected fraud on their account.
“The new opportunities are available for both existing and new to Barclays staff and we’re hugely excited to be able to offer a whole new range of career opportunities across the Sunderland site.”
Barclays has had a presence at Doxford for more than a decade, the site being named North East Contact Centre of the Year for a third consecutive year in 2014.
The new positions follow the announcement of the creation of 100 jobs there in February as part of the company’s roll-out of its video banking service, allowing customers to speak face-to-face with advisors via their computers, smartphones and tablets, 24-hours-a-day.
Those interested in the latest round of recruitment do not need to have previous contact centre or financial services experience since training will be provided, not only on practical issues but in more nuanced areas like emotional intelligence and situational judgment.
Mrs Allenson said: “What we are trying to do is provide customers with a really great experience.
“There will be huge investment in terms of costs, but I am passionate about bringing jobs to Sunderland and creating more career opportunities for our colleagues.
“We have some of the best here in the North East, so for me, it’s really important to keep them motivated and retain them.”
Sunderland City Council chief executive Dave Smith said he was particularly pleased to learn of the investment since it was an indication that the contact centre industry was beginning to grow again, rather than simply remain stable as it had done during the recession.
The sector had also changed significantly, meaning a much wider range of jobs were now available than would have been the case in the past.
“Barclays is a shining success story for Sunderland and I am delighted that the bank has chosen the city as the base for its new fraud detection centre of excellence,” Dr Smith said.
“The creation of at least 200 jobs with the new division, coming hot on the heels of the 100 positions created at Sunderland for video banking, is great news for the city’s economy.
“We look forward to supporting Barclays’ continued growth and development in the city in the future.”