The Global Recruiter’s 14th UK Summit held in London yesterday provided recruiters with insightful context, innovative thinking and practical ways forward to help their businesses surge ahead over the coming years. Faced with numerous challenges, the day delivered comprehensive market information, examining exactly what the workforce of today and tomorrow will want from the workplace, how this fits with employers and where recruiters could find their place.
Despite the challenges messages from the day were very positive. Ian Brinkley, Interim Chief Economist at the CIPD gave facts and figures from a variety of sources which suggested that levels of ‘traditional’ permanent employment have not changed significantly over the past decade. Crucially he also said the expectations people had from the workplace had not changed, but there was a disconnect between what many workers wanted from work and what they actually experienced. Most people in atypical job structures, he said, were there through choice rather than because they had no other option. Moreover, the quality of work indicators did not vary significantly between different working options. In other words, those in atypical employment models are no more or less 'happy' than those in traditional structures.
His message was supported by Annemarie Muntz, President of WEC who argued that while jobs were not changing, the tasks involved in jobs were changing. She also presented a variety of industry data concluding that the recruiter had a social role in the future, offering their candidate clear career guidance, perhaps meeting with them multiple times over their working life, rather than just once or twice. The overall impression from these sessions was not just that recruiters would continue to have a role in the economy of the future but that their role would be vital.
‘Google’ Dave Hazlehurst of Ph.Creative described how, as technology increases in the recruitment industry, the need for the human touch within the sector also increases. Technology is clearly not an end in itself, indeed it seems reports of technology’s ability to replace recruiters and other jobs are greatly exaggerated, but the key is to identify how the technology can be used to connect the candidate with a human recruitment consultant who can provide the care they need.
Yvette Cleland, CEO of Clinical Professional was interviewed by host Miles Hunt in the afternoon, giving a valuable insight into the challenges of running a recruitment agency in a competitive sector. Through micro-specialisation and a highly innovative training scheme which delivered new and much needed skills to the sector, Cleland and her team have built an industry leading business. Her candid responses during the interview were appreciated by the audience.
An insight into gamification’s potential for creating a diverse workforce was presented by Ton Viggers of pymetrics who drew on the experience of Unilever and others to demonstrate how bias can be dealt with in the recruitment process.
The day was rounded off with the HR Panel, hosted by James Osborne, chairman of The Recruitment Network. Taking questions from James and the audience, the five panel members showed how they were open to innovative thinking from recruiters and keen to develop a more diverse workforce. Faced with very clear challenges in terms of labour and skill shortages and the constant pressure of reducing cost and time to hire, the panel were very positive about the unique and specialised service recruiters could bring to their organisations.
As one panel member noted, there has always been talk of how the recruitment industry is going to be replaced or marginalised in the future, and certainly technology is ready to take some of the more administrative tasks from the profession. However this leaves more space for recruiters to deliver the skills and knowledge that only they can. Employers are facing uncertainty and challenge throughout their operations, but recruiters have the potential to deliver and make a positive difference for a long time to come.