At the recent Recruitment Agency Expo in London, I was able to lift my eyes from the immediate challenges of the industry – whether that is changing client demand, the effects of Brexit or huge policy challenges like the application of IR35 changes in the private sector – and talk a bit more about the future of the recruitment industry.
This is a fun part of the job. And, unlike many speakers on tech transformation in the sector, I don’t have a particular product to sell, so I can talk about it from a place close to the REC’s purpose, helping brilliant recruiters to grow and succeed.
We all know digital disruption of the industry is an ongoing process – and that the next big thing will be how we use Artificial Intelligence. If we look backwards to technology like robots, we can see a path. In my presentation, I used a page of the Daily Mirror from 1963 that declares “Go, Go, Go for Robot Age Britain”. Back then, a robot in popular culture was something akin to a humanoid, like Marvin from the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.
In fact, the truth of robotification has been rather different. Adoption has happened – data from the US Federal Reserve shows the rate of growth in routine jobs pretty much stopping from the 1990s – but the labour market has reshaped itself around the technology, and focussed human efforts on human strengths, with non-cognitive jobs growing strongly.
The lesson here is that the labour market changes steadily over time, and jobs reshape around the technology. REC members tend to agree - over 70% of them see more opportunities than threats in the technology - that will come on stream steadily over the next few years. And the pace of change will increase – data from the German Federation of Engineers (VDI) show that the leading areas of AI use, like assistance systems or data analysis, are minority sports now but could be reaching close to 50% penetration in five years’ time.
So forward-thinking recruiters have time to adapt but need a plan. Here are five things that recruiters should have in mind when approaching this:
AI-driven change is coming to our sector. But if we get it right, we may well journey through it as an even more highly-respected professional services sector. The REC will be by your side, and ready to help. I would be keen to know what you think. Drop me a line at Neil@rec.uk.com, or on Twitter @RECNeil.