Taking forward industry views with Employment Minister
We were delighted to take part in last week’s roundtable with Employment Minister Chris Grayling and leading business organisations, hosted in the pristine HQ of Intellect, the representative body for employers in the IT and technology field. The event was an opportunity to take forward key industry messages to Government and to the UK business community.
Discussions with the Minister and senior officials within the Department for Work & Pensions focused on measures to kick-start the UK jobs market and to address the disconnect between the skills and competencies of job-seekers and the needs of employers.
This was an opportunity to underline a key recommendations of our Youth Employment Taskforce – namely the need for an effective careers guidance network. Our message to the Minister was that tapping into the expertise of recruitment professionals would provide a cost effective means of delivering this much needed support.
In summary, some of the main outcomes and messages from the roundtable were as follows:
The Minister made the point that ‘recruitment is one of the most important issues for employers’. This was an opportunity to underline the role that the private sector recruitment industry plays in sourcing and placing the right calibre of both temporary and permanent staff within UK businesses.
The Minister made specific reference to the Government’s commitment to working with the REC on promoting industry standards. One specific issue flagged during the meeting was the advertising of non-existent or already-filled jobs which is a source of frustration for job-seekers. There will always be a need to build a pipeline of potential candidates so that vacancies can be filled quickly but the REC will continue to encourage transparency and clarity in the way that opportunities are presented.
Discussions touched on general challenges facing businesses across different sectors and honed in on the issue of public procurement. The Minister emphasised the Government’s commitment to streamlining procurement procedures but recognised that this was not always reflected in the way that local authorities and other public sector employers handled their procurement of goods and services.
Examples where progress is being made include the development of a recognised health and safety kite-mark that suppliers can use in tenders. The general move towards using kite-marks and quality assurance measures will provide further opportunities for actively promoting the benefits of using REC members –particularly following the endorsement at the recent AGM for a new phase in the REC’s compliance regime.
Feedback from other trade bodies in areas such as financial services, facilities management and care is that their biggest challenge is actively promoting careers in their sectors. REC Sector Groups are already working with employers and representative organisations on this as part of the REC’s ongoing client agenda.
An underlying theme was the need to equip young people with the right skills and competencies. Employers in the areas such as technology and the security industry are predicting increasing skills shortages. This is a challenge in both the short and longer terms, with Intellect – the professional body for IT and technology employers – calling for a radical review of the schools curriculum and an increased focus on technology in primary schools.
We will be following up on the key issues raised with the Employment Minister and the various employer organisations over the coming weeks. The feedback and input of REC members will continue to drive our campaigning work and client-facing activities.