Those of you browsing these pages this week for updates, commentary and salacious gossip around the awarding of the All-of-Government recruitment contract will be sorely disappointed. Surely you are all aware that the MBIE “would just like to remind you of the continued requirement as to confidentiality and commercial sensitivity of all aspects of the RFP.”
And of course, being recruiters, we are good at following rules, avoiding all networking activities, refusing to talk to each other and maintaining complete silence on matters crucial to the make up and future direction of our industry. So you’ll have to come back next week for my comments around the size of the appointed AOG panel, the decision to hold successful respondents to their final, and lowest bid, rates for perm fees, contracting margins and temp rates. You will have to go elsewhere to learn about the dominance of large, big-brand, generalist recruiters on the panel, with only a small handful of places for boutique, niche industry expert recruiters, and only then those who have a long and demonstrable history of recruiting into Wellington’s public sector.
It seems to have been one of those weeks where the standing and future viability of the agency recruitment world has come under attack from all sides. The awarding of places on the AOG panel to successful firms was greeted more with relief than joy by the recruiters I spoke to. It’s an important “win” for many recruiters, especially in Wellington, but it has brought with it major downward pressure on the profit margins of recruitment and many are resigned to inevitable restructuring of how they deliver their services. Furthermore, recruitment firms are continuing to struggle to retain their staff and turnover is increasing as market conditions harden. But, where it used to be poor quality recruiters exiting the industry, we are now seeing a greater number of good quality recruiters switching sides (why does there need to be “sides”?) to the internal recruitment industry and taking their skills and expertise into corporate recruitment teams who are tasked with reducing agency spend.
Add to this comments at the current RCSA conference (in Fiji – yeah that’s a good look) from ManpowerGroup president of corporate and government affairs David Arkless. :
“We’re being systematically attacked by global unions that say, clearly, we have no right to exist, and we have no right to be an employer, and we have no right to take part in social contact, and no right to be viewed as a sector,”
This is a time when good quality agency recruiters who believe in the value of their service and the expertise they can add to the recruitment puzzle need to take a deep breath, acknowledge these pressures, but have some pride, some self-respect, and some belief . As Arkless went on to say, “Too long we’ve been hiding under a carpet going, ‘We’re just recruitment people’. You’re not. You are the link between people and the job market for the future.”
And then we had the uplifting news that Sir Graham Henry had decided to turn away from rugby to concentrate on his new career in recruitment. Well ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, apparently he’s still going to do some coaching at the Auckland Blues or something…but here we have an absolute legend in New Zealand, the man who built a world-dominating, World Cup winning team, joining the board of Momentum and bringing his leadership skills and industry contacts to the agency recruitment world.
I spoke to Bede Ashby, MD of Momentum Group, last night and he told me how he had been interviewing Sir Graham for a research paper and, impressed by his leadership qualities and knowledge, asked him the question. We all know that if you don’t ask you don’t get, but it seems this is something we in recruitment can still claim to do better than others! But in a week where agency recruitment has been knocked all over the park, it’s good to go in at half-time and be greeted by someone like Sir Graham joining our ranks. Bede Ashby told The Whiteboard:
“I think it’s important for the industry to believe that we can be a serious business and attract amazing talent to our companies. In the era of commoditizing our offerings, eg. AoG, it’s significant that people of the calibre of Dame Jenny Shipley and Sir Graham Henry believe in what we do and the positive impact we have on people’s lives, both clients and candidates.”
Well said sir. Chin up recruitment.