The REC was on the ground for the trilogy of political party get-togethers in what is probably the most surreal conference season in history. Amid the furore around the toxic political culture, the ongoing Brexit psycho-drama and the recalling of Parliament, we’ve been reporting from the inside for a glimpse of what to expect in the future of work and recruitment.
We were in Bournemouth for the Lib Dem’s conference, where Jo Swinson is now in charge. There was a real sense of energy as the party welcomed several new MPs to the party, including former Labour shadow minister Chuka Umunna and former Conservative leadership contender Sam Gyimah. Looking ahead, our industry’s role in making change happen on inclusion and social mobility will be an important engagement hook with the Lib Dems.
Next up we were in Brighton for the Labour conference as deputy leader Tom Watson narrowly survived an attempted coup, and the Supreme Court ruled prorogation was unlawful, forcing leader Jeremy Corbyn to bring forward his speech and rush off to parliament. There were some big policy proposals including a 32 hour working week. The REC had speaking slots at fringe events on hot topics such as education policy and lifelong learning which provided a great platform for showcasing our industry’s contribution to the UK economy and labour market. Looking ahead, we will continue to make the case that flexibility and good work go hand and to challenge latent misconceptions about agency work.
Finally we were in Manchester for the Conservative conference. There were more big announcements including a £10.50 National Living Wage, and Aussie style points-based immigration system, and of course a hint at the latest Brexit proposals sent to Brussels. Immigration will remain a priority issue in our follow-up discussions with Ministers and MPs and we will continue to use REC research and data to highlight the extent of candidate shortages across a range of sectors. Discussions in Manchester on the impact of automation and AI were also an opportunity to flag our industry’s commitment to taking a lead on the future of jobs and helping policy makers make sense of the evolving world of work.
In these tumultuous political times, taking part in all the main party conferences has felt a bit like being in the eye of the storm. Whatever transpires over the coming weeks and month, we will remain on the front foot in championing brilliant recruitment, which drives our economy and delivers opportunity to millions.