If Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, is hailed as the call centre capital of Europe, there are signs that it is gaining a similar reputation in the area of shared service centres.

Friday sees the official launch of TASCO Europe's new centre which is based at Gordon Street in Glasgow and is set to employ around 420 new accountancy, administrative and other service type jobs in the city.

A joint venture set up on a 50/50 basis between Shell and Ernst & Young, the TASCO project has been driven by the Shell Group which saw the centre as a means of consolidating its European accounting and financial management functions.

Peter Leadbetter, acting TASCO Europe communications leader, and an employee of Ernst & Young, explained the reasoning behind choosing Glasgow for the new centre.

''Essentially we chose Glasgow because it had appropriate office space and very good communications, but the real thing that attracted us here was the information we were given about the quality of the workforce,'' he said.

TASCO's role is based on the processing of what used to be termed back office accounting services and the new shared service centre takes the broad range of accounting service functions from customers and processes them.

The structure is flat, with team members and team leaders split up into different groupings which are involved in continuous contact with customers, all Shell businesses at the moment, based in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland as well as in the UK.

''We are an arms-length organisation so we had to compete in order to win the various businesses within the enormous Shell organisation that have made the decision to outsource this particular function,'' said Leadbetter. ''We have signed contracts with five now and there are a number of others coming through the pipeline from within the Shell organisation. However, we are not going to be limited to Shell and our chairman has gone on record as saying that he hopes that by the turn of the century we will already have an external customer, so we would want to meet that target.''

TASCO arrived at its new base in Gordon Street in March and already has 110 people working there, with a further 300 expected within the next 18 months.

The company has used Search Consultancy in Glasgow for the initial stages of the recruitment process, including the organisation of a competency framework.

''So far we have had a range of people applying, from accountancy graduates to people going through accountancy training to those who have been operating in some form of financial administrative role,'' said Leadbetter. ''What we are more interested in is the potential to develop in the right way.

''The main criteria are service orientation and customer orientation so when we have been interviewing people, while relevant experience is an asset, we are looking at how they view customers, how they see themselves developing.''

So far, team members include people who are fresh out of universities along with people who may have worked in another organisation in their financial function.

That combination of backgrounds is seen as positive, allowing people to engage with and learn from each other. Those working towards accountancy exams will be encouraged to achieve the appropriate qualifications while those with relatively limited experience in skills in financial processing will be trained to the standard necessary to deliver what Leadbetter calls the classic Scottish service.

''I think we are tapping into the strong ethos of the Scottish education system and I also think we have cloned, from the US and other shared services elsewhere, that atmosphere and culture so essential to success,'' he said.

''Training involves a three-week induction course based in the centre, a combination of desk top training and presentations which involves a range of role plays designed to build up skills in the customer-facing areas and is intended to give the trainees a sense of the organisation's culture. After that, people go out.''

The first group went out to Denmark where they work shadowed for six to eight weeks, sitting alongside those operating and running the processes in the customer base so that they could understand how it all operates and build up relationships with people who will be the customer link.

''In a very short time we will be delivering a service to more than 30 different countries, and although the bulk of the people we have taken on so far have come from the broader Glasgow/Edinburgh area, in order to capture some of the specialist languages we have had to recruit on a broader basis,'' Leadbetter said.

''Language was not a pre-requisite because the business language is always English, but it is helpful to have some people who speak Scandinavian languages and we will be offering training in-house to people in language skills. It is good for people to be able to speak to colleagues in their own language.''

After six weeks, the trainees will return and go live at the shared services centre, dealing with customers from all over Europe.

TASCO is actively recruiting at the moment. ''We are running one team member event per fortnight but we may well have to increase that,'' said Leadbetter. ''They are held in the evening and are very relaxed. People are asked about their experience and about whatever service orientation they might have. Most of those interviewed have been offered jobs.''