The party conference season concluded with this week’s SNP shindig in Glasgow, giving an opportunity to take stock of how key political messages chime with the ongoing insight and feedback from recruitment professionals in Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader used her speech and Brexit to get Scottish Independence back on the political agenda while also focusing on employment related issues.
REC members in Scotland cited the dearth of suitable candidates as one of their biggest challenges. The recruitment sector and the wider business community welcomed the focus on training and skills at the conference, ensuring that the right skills are being developed as recruiters are uniquely placed to flag skills mismatches.
Scotland now has the highest proportion of employees paid the living wage of any UK nation. As a result, fair work, gender pay and social mobility were key themes during the conference. Recruiters can make change happen on the inclusion agenda and provide progression opportunities on a daily basis. We will continue to showcase the positive role that our industry plays, while making the case that flexible arrangements such as temporary and contract work are often driven by individual choice and should not be seen as 'bad work'.
The perceptions that permanent jobs are good and flexible ones are bad is an outdated notion that we’ll continue to challenge. Pushing back on potential changes to IR35 in the private sector is a priority as this would impact negatively on individual contractors as well as on the ability of business to access skilled staff quickly.
SNP delegates called for more action to tackle the gender pay gap, including prohibiting public bodies from asking for salary history in the recruitment of employees to ensure that women are consistently paid a fair market value for their skills. Encouraging employers to work with their recruitment partners to innovate and review current hiring procedures is a core aim of our ongoing Good Recruitment Campaign.
In her closing address, Sturgeon referenced her government's commitment to "tackling global problems such as automation and an ageing population". Pre-empting the potential impact of technology and demographic change on the jobs market was a core aim of the REC's Future of jobs Commission and we will continue to take forward the recommendations of the Commission and to promote to messages of our follow-up Recruitment 2025 White Paper.
What's next? We will continue to use the insight of REC members to inform the work of MSPs and to feed into ongoing debates around skills, immigration, inclusion and the future of jobs. Sign up to our REC Scotland Policy Forum in November.
David Creighton MIRP Cert – Scotland National Account Manager