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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

REC international – How will the global recruitment industry drive positive change in the ‘new normal’?

Government and campaigns

Tom Hadley avatar

Written by Tom Hadley Director of Policy and Campaigns

The recent workshops hosted in June by the World Employment Confederation brought together industry leaders from over 20 countries. This was an opportunity to take stock of how national federations and global recruitment businesses have managed the COVID-19 crisis. This online gathering of the global recruitment and employment family also set the tone for positioning the sector at the forefront of post-lockdown labour market issues.

Here are six core messages:

  1. This is a time for flexibility and agility – In the words of WEC President, Annemarie Muntz: “now is the time to innovate and for governments to accept that diverse forms of work will sustain and boost employment opportunities”. This was amplified by Brooke Lord, Head of Advocacy at RCSA (the federation representing Australia and New Zealand): “the crisis has been an opportunity for the sector to show that we are job makers, not just job placers”.
  2. Industry voice is being heard – Suchita Dutta, Managing Director of the Indian Staffing Federation (ISF) underlined that the “crisis has accelerated our work with government to address the informal economy”. Further examples of the industry stepping-up its collaboration with policy makers and public employment services during the crisis were provided from a variety of countries including Chile, China, India, Switzerland and the Netherlands. This chimes with our experience here in the UK. The aim is to build on this in the post-COVID-19 ‘new normal’.
  3. We need new solutions to emerging challenges – WEC-Europe President, Bettina Schaller, highlighted the opportunity to take a lead on some of the most pressing challenges of the day, including re-skilling, facilitating transitions for jobseekers and supporting clients on negotiating a safe return to work. Being a proactive ‘force for change’ in these areas will help move national governments away from entrenchment to enlightenment when it comes to latent regulatory barriers on the sector!
  4. The industry must take a lead on equality – Recent developments in the US and subsequent protests across the globe have made it clear that we all have a stake in building more equal economies and societies. Discussions underlined the risk of the COVID-19 aftermath accentuating existing inequalities.  The sector can play a pivotal role in boosting social cohesion through fair access to work and progression opportunities and by helping to address all forms of inequality.
  5. Industry skills needs are evolving - An estimated 2.4 million people work within the global recruitment sector. Attracting great people into the industry remains a priority and the opportunity is there to recalibrate the relationship not just with policy makers but also with clients. The skills of recruitment professionals will need to evolve to seize these new opportunities and sustain more strategic-level discussions with hiring employers.
  6. There are reasons to be hopeful – Looking ahead, 70% of workshop participants were in the ‘cautiously optimistic’ camp – yes there are many challenges ahead but the future is bright. There is a real opportunity to position the industry at the forefront of helping policymakers, employers and jobseekers navigate disrupted post-lockdown labour markets.

Across the globe, recruiters place just under 58 million people a year into temporary or permanent roles; now is the time to galvanise and showcase this contribution. The role of representative bodies – whether local, national or global - is more important than ever in times of disruption. It is not just about services offered or campaigns run, it is about creating common cause and collective energy. The latest round of WEC workshops were a good example of this.
For more information on overseas markets and on the REC’s international work with the World Employment Confederation, please e-mail: