The UK's much maligned call centre industry is booming, an official report says.

"The sector is healthy, and is set to employ over one million people by 20007, four times more than India in the same year," claims a Department of Trade and Industry survey.

The industry which has grown by almost 250% since 1995 is forecast to recruit an extra 200,000 workers in the next three years.

The study is reputedly the first comprehensive report on the industry. Overall, the quality of service in UK call centres is high but Government and industry need to work to improve perceptions of the sector.

The skills of the call centre workforce need to be improved, especially in communication and customer service.

Customers, employees and trade unions should be consulted before companies decided to move operations overseas. UK call centres should compete with offshore centres on the basis of improving quality rather than cost.

Moving work to India saved up to 40% in operating costs, mainly because pay is only 10%-15% of the UK equivalent.

"We have a vibrant call centre industry in the UK, with some of the best customer service professionals in the world," said Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Data sourced from: BBC Online News; additional content by WARC staff