Making sense of the future workplace
Fortunately, employers are beginning to recognise the challenges, and subsequently, are being more flexible in their requirements. “They’re realising that recruiters aren’t going to be able to find the ‘finished product’. But what they are asking for is to is find someone with the right attitude that they can train on the job.”
This focus on the right attitude, is something that the REC is keen to filter into education. “When we speak to young people looking for work, they’re a little apprehensive about the pace of change,” Tom explains. “However, recruiters understand what skills and attitudes are needed to succeed in the future workplace, so there’s a real opportunity to help inspire young people, teach that can-do attitude and boost the growth mindset.” Trade bodies can also be the broker who makes this happen. “If we could galvanise all these members there’s massive scalability to be proactive with education,” he continues.
Automation: It’s no silver bullet
Educating the future workforce will also help to debunk myths surrounding automation. With McKinsey Global Institute’s report stating 20% of current jobs in the UK will be automated by 2030, Tom reassures that it’s no silver bullet. “Whilst automation may seem an easy answer to the talent dearth, there are several sectors where it’s hard to incorporate it,” he explains. “For example, in agriculture, specifically horticulture, those roles can’t be automated. Fruit-picking is a delicate process and it requires people.” Whilst there is bound to be a hollowing out of the jobs market, for example, in back office roles, employers that can pre-empt these changes can prepare. “I think the opportunity for our members is to make sense of the impact of technology on work and the new skills it will require. Having specialists who understand the jobs market, are tech savvy and know what candidates are looking for, is important,” Tom concludes.
Furthermore, the industry can also lead the way when it comes to using technology creatively. One example is REC member Manpower who recently won a Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) award for placing jobseekers with hearing difficulties into work in call centres. The opportunity to bring an underrepresented group into a workplace typically not conducive to those with poor hearing, was made possible both through technology as well as a charity-sector partnership. “This is just one example showing that the opportunity is there for our members to position themselves as consultants on the future workplace,” Tom explains.
And that’s exactly where good recruitment agencies are positioning themselves. According to feedback from REC members, the old ‘we need a new staff member’ conversations are being replaced by consultative communications that span from succession planning, engaging passive candidates to workforce demographics. “I hope more employers take recruitment as a discipline and not just if they’re using agents but as a whole and invest in it,” Tom adds. “A measure of good recruitment shouldn’t be how cheap it was. Whether it’s using good external third parties or ensuring those in-house are properly trained, it should be viewed as something that’s worth the time. There’s a cost of not getting it right.” And it will be the proactive, forward-thinking and adaptable recruiters that Hadley believes can lead change; improving the world of work, perceptions of the industry and defining the future.