Memorandum from Recruitment & Employment
Private recruitment firms have an essential
role to play in helping unemployed people find work.
Temporary work contracts undertaken through
private recruitment firms often result in a permanent job offer.
150,000 permanent jobs were filled through this route in 1999.
Private recruitment firms have an important
role to play in providing skills training and improving employability
through temporary assignments.
Recruitment firms are skilled at "selling"
a candidate to a client and in convincing clients to recruit on
the basis of competence and skills.
Employers should be encouraged to consider internal
training and development and to implement more flexible working
methods to encourage unemployed people back to the labour market.
Consideration should be given to certifying
unemployed people's attendance and conduct at benefits agency
to be used as a "passport" to registration.
Temporary work provides an important introduction
to work because it offers flexibility to workers to work when
they want or are able to.
Entry level jobs are an important stepping stone
2.1 The Recruitment & Employment Confederation
was formed in January 2000 by merging the Federation of Recruitment
and Employment Services (FRES) with the Institute of Employment
Consultants (IEC). It has some 5,800 corporate offices and 7,500
individuals as members. Its mission is to champion providers of
recruitment solutions. REC members operate in virtually all sectors
of the employment market and represent a wide range of businesses,
ranging from small independent firms to mullet-national organisations.
2.2 It is estimated that the recruitment
and staffing industry payrolls around 900,000 individuals in temporary
or contract jobs each week. Temporary and contract staff are used
throughout the UK economy. The chart below illustrates the segmentation
of the temporary and contract employment market in the financial
year ended 1999.
2.3 The industry fills around 450,000 permanent
jobs annually. The chart below illustrates the segmentation of
the permanent recruitment market in the financial year ended 1999.
2.4 The recruitment and staffing industry
clearly has an essential role to play in labour markets of all
kinds. It has close links with employers both at local and national
levels and in a wide range of vertical employment markets.
3.1 The recent Jobs for All report published
by the DfEE identifies that most employers recruit candidates.
(a) who have the perceived and required
(b) who represent the lowest risks in recruitment.
3.2 We would not argue with this analysis.
Many unemployed job candidates are lacking in confidence and in
job-seeking techniques. Private agencies have a role to play in
improving employability by providing temporary work and also training
for unemployed candidates. Many employers, when interviewing a
candidate for a permanent job, will express reluctance to engage
on a permanent basis a candidate who has been unemployed for some
time. The risks in doing so include perceived lack of motivation,
or consequent problems with time keeping and attendance. A solution
that works for both employer and job seeker is for the employer
to engage the worker on a temporary basis via the recruitment
consultancy for an agreed period. If the worker proves satisfactory
at the end of this period, the client engages him or her permanently.
This has advantages for all parties: the worker is able to benefit
from an employment opportunity that suits his or her skills; the
employer's level of risk in engaging a candidate who is unsuitable
is reduced to a minimum. The arrangement is more beneficial to
the employer and employee than a probationary period. If an employee
does not complete a satisfactory probation period, there is a
sense of failure on both sides. This arrangement leads to no sense
of failure and helps to increase job seekers' employability.
3.3 Recruitment consultancies have an important
role to play in encouraging employers to discriminate against
unemployed people. Recruitment consultants are trained in "selling"
a candidate's skills to employers and are far more likely to be
able to persuade a potential employer of a candidate's competencies
and skills than a job seeker who may have problems with self-esteem
and confidence after a period of employment. Recruitment consultants
are also trained to question employers as to why they are demanding
particular skills or attaching conditions to a job specification
(eg age qualifications) and to give advice on the quickest and
most effective way of filling a job. In many cases, employers
need to be encouraged to think creatively about the job they want
to fill and the type of person who might fill it. Competence based
recruitment is accepted good practice and has vital role to play
in persuading employers only to recruit on the basis of skills
and competencies rather than on say a period of unemployment.
4. WHAT CAN
4.1 Skills shortages exist throughout the
labour market. The REC Report on Jobs for February showed that
the labour market is at its tightest since the mid 80's. There
are 3.3 unemployed people for every vacancy compared to a ratio
of nine unemployed people per vacancy in the late 80s. In spite
of such skill shortages many employers remain very rigid about
their recruitment policies, preferring to try to recruit from
competitors or from people currently in employment rather than
considering the alternatives of offering training or development
either internally (so creating vacancies at lower skill levels
within the organisation) or externally (so offering opportunities
to people who are unemployed), or by implementing more flexible
methods of working to encourage unemployed people back into the
4.2 The Government has a role to play in
promoting best practice by encouraging employers to combat skills
shortages by planning effectively and by looking at more creative
methods of recruiting.
4.3 Obviously-job seekers who have been
unemployed for some time lack recent references. This makes some
employers more reluctant to employ them. It also makes private
agencies more reluctant to put them forward for permanent vacancies
or to engage them for temporary work. A "passport" issued
by the benefits agency for unemployed workers could help to verify
the individual's period of employment and possibly include a report
on their conduct and time keeping at interviews.
4.4 It would also be helpful if unemployed
candidates received a training record which would detail any training
received and the pass mark achieved as this would provide evidence
to a potential employer or recruitment consultancies of the skills
an individual had obtained.
5. ROLE OF
5.1 Private employment agencies have a vital
role to play in the efficient functioning of labour markets. As
well as matching candidates with employers who are recruiting
for permanent jobs, the industry has a vital role to play in facilitating
flexibility in the job market via the provision of temporary and
contract staff to employers throughout the UK and in all sectors
of the recruitment market. Recruitment consultancies have close
and unique knowledge of local and vertical job markets. This means
that they are well aware of the skills needs that employers have.
The training offered by recruitment consultancies mirror closely
those skills needs and so increase employability of unemployed
5.2 The importance of temporary work in
providing a bridge for unemployed people who find it difficult
to take working on a full time basisfor example because
of family commitment or illnessis underestimated. Temporary
work offers an opportunity to work, with the social benefits that
brings, but allows individuals flexibility to work when they want
or are able to.
5.3 Many older candidates who find it difficult
to find work because of the attitude of employer to older workers
find that temporary work enables them to participate in the labour
market. Employers who may be reluctant to engage older workers
will willingly engage a temporary worker whose application for
a permanent job they might reject on grounds of age. Temporary
work often leads to a permanent job, once employers have had an
opportunity of assessing the ability of the individual. 150,000
people found permanent jobs through this route in 1999. Attached
as an appendix are case histories from one REC member. These illustrate
how private recruitment firms can offer very practical help to
5.4 The REC has long encouraged its members
to build close relationships with the Employment Service and where
appropriate to post vacancies in the Employment Service offices
so that a wide range of job-seekers have access to vacancies.
This has been a very successful co-operative arrangement for both
5.5 The REC is working with the Employment
Service to explore how the Employment Service's Website (Jobbank)
can include vacancies from private agencies and how to access
to unemployed people can be maximised.
5.6 The Employment Service and REC are also
producing a jointly a Good Practice Guide on co-operation between
job centres and private agencies. This will be circulated to job
centre staff and also to REC members. The objective is to illustrate
the ways in which co-operation has benefited job-seekers and the
commercial benefits this brings to both the Employment Service
and private agencies. It is also anticipated that this will heighten
the level of debate within both the public and private recruitment
sectors and encourage them to look creatively at co-operation
6.1 Entry level jobs are an important stepping
stone to higher level jobs for those who want to progress. Basic
work skills such as timekeeping and reliability, social skills
and interaction, assertiveness and customer service can be mastered.
Recruitment consultancies often provide access to such jobs, either
on a temporary or permanent basis and provide the necessary training
for the job. The attached case histories illustrate this.
Recruitment & Employment Confederation