Seven messages from the 2014 World Employment Conference

Last month’s annual gathering of Ciett, the International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies, saw federations and recruiters from over 30 different countries converge on Brussels for the 2014 World Employment Conference.  This year’s event was hosted by Federgon – the Belgian federation – and included a number of key messages for European recruiters, their clients, and jobseekers:

1. The global market is bouncing back – Ciett data shows that the global turnover for temporary staffing is just under 300 billion euros. Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) are predicting growth in most countries. In the UK the initial prediction of 7% growth for 2014 is likely to be revised upwards. This compares to a global average of 4%. Forecasts in other markets include 5% growth in Germany, Japan, USA and 4% in Brazil.

2. Driving industry perception remains a priority – Incoming Ciett President Anne-Marie Munz argued that "improving our image is key to driving growth and pushing back on regulations that 'cage' the industry in many countries". The Ciett 'Way to Work'  campaign will continue to challenge pre-conceptions and the industry is now positioning its voice on major social and labour market challenges such as youth employment, skills shortages and ageing population. Ryuji Ichikawa, Japanese Staffing Services Association made the point that “access to robust global data is key to changing perceptions" and consensus amongst national federations is that collating good practice ‘stories’ was equally important.

3. Compliance & professionalisation are key to this – A new position within the Ciett Board will focus specifically on this agenda, which is key to improving overall image.  The author and keynote speaker Kjell Nordstrom made the point that "Business is all about creating a temporary monopoly". Whilst standards and compliance might not achieve this alone, recruiters are increasingly using compliance and standards as differentiator. The REC’s Kevin Green provided an update on the recently launched ‘Good Recruitment Campaign’ and on how this is being used to promote compliant agencies to end-users. Richard Walquist, Chief Executive of the American Staffing Association (ASA) argued that "Driving qualification and training is key to developing individuals and to moving the whole industry forward”. 

4. Recruiters are operating within in a changing social landscape – The 500m baby boomers globally are creating a new consumer market and high demand for staff in specific sectors. Marc De Vos, director of the Itinera Institute and labour Law lecturer at Ghent University also underlined the fact that "3 billion people will become middle class across the globe, which presents the biggest economic opportunity ever." At the same time an estimated 40% of current jobs could potentially disappear due to technology. This has implications for education as well as recruiters - According to Career Builder "most developed economies are educating young people for jobs that no longer exist".

5. Recruiters can help employers keep up with the pace of change – Author of ‘The Human Cloud’ Clo Willaerts argued that 'as the pace of change accelerated with regards to  social media, technology and employee expectations, recruiters can play an increasingly pivotal role by helping clients to adapt". The role of employment agencies as  ‘change enablers’ was also picked up on by Ciett Managing Director Denis Pennel who also argued that "The future of our industry is facilitating the acquisition of talent and passion. It is no longer just about skills".

6. Supply models are continuing to evolve – Over 50% of overall spend on temporary staffing in the US is through managed services. In Europe it is currently 18%. These models are continuing to evolve, with an increased focus on compliance and sustainability. In some markets, for example Germany and India, full outsourcing arrangements are seen as an alternative to using agency workers is a significant threat.

7. The role of intermediaries will remain crucial – The role of all intermediaries (not just recruitment agencies) has been questioned. Dominique Turcq, founder of the Boostzone Institute, framed the debate in these terms: “Can Expedia really plan personalised travel, can online auctions provide quality guarantees, are online recommendations genuine and can electronic staffing platforms provide additional value such as training, effective skills matching and on boarding?”  His conclusion was that “the role of intermediaries will remain key".

Ciett now represents 51 national federations, with new members coming on board over recent years from India, Indonesia, Nepal, Zambia, Singapore, Russia and Vietnam.  The latest gathering of the “United Nations of Recruitment” was an opportunity to take stock of the latest trends and amplify our collective voice.  The ultimate aim is to drive respect and recognition for our industry and to ensure that compliant recruiters can continue to thrive and seize new opportunities.

This blog post draws from a similar post by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the UK trade body representing the recruitment industry, which had multiple staff members attend the conference. Executives Online is a member of the REC and its sector-specific group the Interim Management Association and has attained the rigorous REC Audited certification, the most comprehensive regulatory audit of its kind, demonstrating that a recruitment business is committed to the highest possible standards.

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