I am personally a great advocate of GNVQ in the contact centre environment. Why?
1) There are many different GNVQs of varying relevance depending on your business. Partaking in the GNVQ improves the employees ability to fulfil their role without undue impact on the operation.
2) The ability to provide a nationally recognised qualification to employees - something they can take with them into their future careers. The demographics of most contact centres show them to be stepping stones into careers for many people.
2) GNVQ typical takes around 12 months to complete. The typical target retention rate for employees in contact centres is around 24 months (time taken to recoupe investment) yet the attrition phase is often around 12 months. By offering the GNVQ at 12 months, you can incentivise employees to stay the extra 12, and also ensure you are only offering the GNVQ to people who have already shown a level of comitment.
3) GNVQ assessment can easily be carried out in house. Therefore you have another set of development opportunities for your T&D team. The assessor qualifications are relatively inexpensive, and the savings from running the courses in house soon become apparent. If the scale is sufficient to warrant it, then "checking the checkers" side of GNVQ assessment can also be brought in house (further development for your trainers). This means that the only external part of the process is the registration.
4) Goverment funding is often available for the younger age groups, reducing costs significantly in a typical contact centre demographic.
5) Contact centre employees often feel that they are not appreciated in their role. The contact centre is often seen as a place to work until you are "good enough" to go elsewhere. This continuos skills drain on contact centres often leads to a perpetuation of the problem - the contact centre is seen as an unskilled role, therefore skilled / experienced people seek to move on, therefore the contact centre skill base remains low, therefore the role is seen as unskilled ad infinitum.
It is worth remembering that GNVQ is just one option for this type of long term training, and you might want to consider ICS (Institute of Customer Services) and similar options.
If you service a specific industry such as the financial services, you may want to consider including professional qualifications such as FPC. Even if these are not directly relevant to the role, they will improve your skill base. Also, if we have a committed workforce helping the business to succeed we should feel obligated to developing them in their career, even if ultimately this means we loose them from the contact centre - talk to HR and quantify the minimum retention period required to break even, and target courses around this. The opportunity to receive development is a strong motivator.
As a final consideration, remember that people will expect to be paid according to their experience and skills, therefore some form of renumeration increase may be expected upon completion. Tying the offering of GNVQs into your existing benchmark system (idf in place) will help regulate this.
I hope this has been of use.