Scuttling back and forth to Brussels has been a feature of the political scene of late. We were clocking up our own Eurostar frequent traveler points this month, feeding into the future plans of the World Employment Confederation (WEC) and showcasing the REC’s recent work on social innovation and the future of jobs.
On a bright and breezy Wednesday morning in downtown Brussels, recruitment industry leaders from around Europe assembled at the Crown Plaza Hotel to exchange views on social innovation and the recruitment sector’s evolving role. The WEC Europe conference also brought together representatives from a range of leading international organisations including the European Commission, the OECD and UNI-Europa, and was a great opportunity for highlighting emerging labour market challenges in a number of countries and potential solutions.
In the words of WEC Managing Director Denis Pennel: "We cannot address 21st century jobs market challenges with 20th century solutions”. As we navigate a fast changing world of work, social innovation will become increasingly important. A great example of this is the pioneering work of the Dutch federation ABU, in association with 17 of the biggest banks and financial institutions in Holland, to ensure that temporary and contract workers can access mortgages.
Sixty million people across Europe currently lack the most basic skills. Underlining the urgent need to address this and to get better at anticipating future skills needs, Manuela Geleng, Skills Director within the European Commission's Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Directorate argued that “economic growth and fairness can go hand in hand” and that “boosting awareness, aspiration and skills levels is the a cornerstone of an inclusive society”. No-one would disagree with this and it was great to have the opportunity to present the findings of the REC’s Recruitment 2025 white paper and our Future of jobs ambassadors initiative. This is all about harnessing the expertise of recruitment professionals to building better links between education and the world of work – our own social innovation ‘offering’ at the Brussels conference.
In addition to feeding into the social innovation debate, an ongoing WEC priority is to showcase the overall role that the industry plays and to challenge latent misconceptions. The recruitment and employment sector helps 11 million people across Europe find work and facilitates professional development and career transitions for 750,000 people. The industry also ensures that 2.3 million employers across Europe hire the staff and skills they need to compete and grow. That's worth shouting about!
Our latest Brussels ‘rendez-vous’ was a great reminder of the benefits of building a strong global voice for the industry and of exchanging views on common challenges. Whatever Brexit end-game transpires, the REC and the UK recruitment industry will become more, rather than less, active on the international scene.