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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

The challenging autumn ahead - the REC is here to help

Business advice

Neil  Carberry avatar

Written by Neil Carberry Chief executive

The past few days have seen momentous events in our country. During the period of national mourning, we saw the nation come together to reflect and give thanks for Her Majesty The Queen’s seventy years of service to us all. Like many organisations across the UK, the REC expressed its condolences and we also stepped back from some elements of our work, including our Parliamentary reception, in reflection of the magnitude and sorrow of the moment.  

As we return to something more like normality this week, we return to practical concerns about the shape of our market and the challenges to come, with inflation still high. Our jobs market is still the envy of many, and REC members can still find opportunity. Demand continues at close to the record highs we saw last year, though our data shows the pace of demand is now levelling off - just as you would expect as the post-pandemic sugar rush normalises. It's a trend we'll be watching closely and reporting in detail to help you with those all-important client conversations in the months ahead. As always, so much of our public comment and research work is aimed directly at influencing your client’s understanding of the market. Let us know if there are key things we need to address in this narrative.

Helping you navigate stormier weather with confidence

We can’t hide from the fact that the economic picture over the autumn and winter looks more troubled. That’s why we have been amending some of what we are doing to bring you the best support for the months ahead. When we hosted industry sage, Greg Savage, and a buzzing room of 150 recruiters a couple of weeks ago, resilience in the face of unknowns was the central theme. Greg's session was filled with brilliant insight and practical tips on what recruitment leaders need to prioritise now. (Don't worry if you missed Greg while he was in the UK – we will make a recording available soon. In the meantime, you can find a podcast we recorded with Greg here.)

We'll have more of this kind of deeply practical business advice throughout the autumn and into next year, to guide us through these winds of change. Earlier in the month, we launched our latest guide on engaging and retaining your own teams, for instance, and the business advice pages on our website are always worth a visit. Another part of our support to you will be our flagship annual Recruitment Industry Status report - due this December, so you can bench performance against the industry and plan for the next financial year. Please don't forget to contribute - the more responses we have, the more robust and representative the data. If you need the survey link again, let us know.

We will seize this moment to talk about the difference recruiters make, and what they can do to help the industry and the jobs market.

Making sure your voice is heard

Away from immediate business prospects, we know politics will affect us all in the months to come. Over the past few years, we have built strong relationships in Whitehall and Westminster. Now we have a new Prime Minister and Ministerial team, we will be taking forward the messages in #OvercomingShortages to help shape the agenda. For example, we recently met with senior officials from HM Treasury with responsibility to discuss REC ideas on labour markets, reforming the Apprenticeship Levy and immigration policy.

Watch this space for the Chancellor's "mini Budget" later this week and our analysis. We know the details on the energy cap for business are sorely missing - delayed in part by events. Our view so far is that this will be a government that is far more overtly pro-business than the Boris Johnson team and, with a re-invigorated Labour Party leading in the polls, we will seize this moment to talk to both teams about the difference recruiters make, and what they can do to help the industry and the jobs market.  Our new Manifesto - aimed at all political parties - intentionally highlights the key role our sector can play in the growth agenda, and we'll be championing those messages at the upcoming party political conferences.

Providing the advice you need

In our advisory work, the Supreme Court's judgement on Harpur Trust vs Brazel has dominated the summer.  Our holiday pay hub is being regularly updated but do also contact our legal experts if you need further support. Aside from the far-reaching immediate consequences of the ruling for agencies, its complexity has further strengthened our hand in calling for regulatory reform, chiefly making sure Working Time Regulations are simple, workable and effective. The current ones are not. We know this will be a government that is interested in helping businesses cut through bureaucracy, so I am hopeful on this one. But I don't think we should expect a bonfire of Agency Workers Regulations at this stage. Pragmatic realism will win the day! And we should always focus on simplifying things for business, not reducing workers’ rights.

A key message in #OvercomingShortages was government alone cannot fix our labour market. Given the cost-of-living crisis many are facing, we are having to step up as businesses once again and think how we support our teams through this time. I'd like to highlight one specific offer to SME members - your staff have access to an independent Employee Assistance Programme and helpline. There are also other support services on offer from our trusted business partners. Contact your account manager if you would like details.

Finally, we are back on the road again - so do come and see us! I've so enjoyed being out and about visiting members where you are, I'll be at the Expo next month and, of course, there's the REC Awards to look forward to in late November. We've already sold out of premium packages for the dinner, so get your booking in asap! I think we all deserve a celebration after the last couple of years - bring your teams and help us make it another legendary night.

As ever, let me know what you think and what more the REC can be doing to help you.