Global and International Trends Facing the Employment & Recruitment Industry In Ireland
The Employment & Recruitment Federation’s annual conference, “Post Pandemic Transformation: From Survive to Thrive” took place on 10th March where I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on global and international trends, in particular relating to the employment and recruitment industry.
The panel was chaired by Alison Comyn (Journalist/News Anchor and Communications Consultant), and also featured Bettina Schaller (Global World of Work Executive, President of World Employment Confederation ¦ SVP Head Group Public Affairs at The Adecco Group), Lorna Conn (CEO Cpl) and Neil Carberry (CEO REC), to discuss ‘Global and international trends’.
As you can imagine there are many trends emerging that the employment and recruitment industry are facing however here in this short article I cover off two such trends.
The Geo Political Uncertainties Facing Us & The Industry’s Ability To See Past These
Up to outbreak of the Ukraine War on 24.02.22 we were beginning to experience some silver linings following the dark cloud of the pandemic and the previous ‘great recession’. The truth is, we are facing more ‘darker clouds’ and sooner than any of us were ready or hoped for. So, a new ‘shock’ is upon us requiring that we respond with the agility and resilience that Irish people are known for. In the period ahead some of the issues we need to be conscious off include:
Automation is accelerating: We need to watch for the increased trend towards automation which is being masked by the labour market rebound from the pandemic. There are divergence risks across EU member states and beyond, and whilst the EU is still pushing for social and economic convergence, we need to see better job matching to productive jobs. This will result in the acceleration of automation, which will in turn create a need for sectoral job reallocation and a greater policy focus on ‘just transitions’ to deal with the impact.
Inflation & Monetary Policy: Higher inflation is at a risk of being embedded for longer, although currently, despite rising inflation, wage inflation has not as yet resulted in a wage/price spiral which we must do everything to avoid. Monetary policy should be normalising, but we are seeing a weaker recovery and a lot of geopolitical risks. Achieving price stability whilst protecting the recovery could be an impossible balance for policymakers and central banks.
Labour Shortages: Across the EU, unemployment is 6.4% and is an all-time low, but this would have been more than11% without EU supports during the pandemic. France, Spain & Ireland have had a faster recovery than others and in Ireland, unemployment is now down to 5.2% (excl. PUP recipients) and is heading towards full employment in 2024. At the same time, we are seeing widespread labour shortages and growing attrition issues.
Challenges Attracting Talent: Despite the ‘Ukraine’ effect, we still expect a tighter labour market and an inflationary wage environment in the year ahead. The combined effect of the pandemic, housing crisis, and rising prices will attract fewer overseas workers, thereby adding to the workforce challenges businesses are facing. Organisations will have to either look to technology, new talent pools or creative new ways to better align to changing employee expectations to attract talent.
Re-skilling Lower Skilled Groups: Skills / Digitalisation / Green Economy issues - are a policy and investment priority and there is an immediate need to accelerate the incentivisation of a re-skilling of lower skilled groups.
Specific Labour Market Challenges For Ireland In The Year Ahead
There is a responsibility on the recruitment and employment industry to help policymakers understand what can work or will not work in terms of workplace policy implementation. This is an opportunity for the industry to give a unique insight given its position at the ‘nexus’ of both the employment and work relationship.
However, employers are concerned at the volume of employment regulations being proposed, given the peak uncertainty arising from the pandemic which are being accentuated by the early effects of the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Unfortunately, the policy debate on some issues are becoming polarised with too many politicians, taking ‘populist’ positions on these important issues for business and workers without evidence or of the impact being fully understood.
Some of the key issues and challenges include:
Employment classification issues are increasingly under scrutiny, given EU proposals to regulate platform work which seeks to establish a rebuttable presumption of employment, and could have collateral implications for the definition of employment status more generally.
Right to Sick Pay: The terms of the current Sick Leave Bill 2021, though well intentioned to address the needs of workers, brings new employee rights without responsibilities.
Requests for Remote Working: Access to flexible working and remote working in whatever form is now part of the talent conversation and should be recognised as such by employers. So, as people return to 'office', there is a huge opportunity, through discussion and consultation, for employers and workers to learn and share experiences of what has and has not worked well during the pandemic, to better understand and explore insights about work organisation, and to identify opportunities to create the best model of work organisation for the future. Some argue that the ‘Great Resignation’ is partly driven by a demand for more flexibility. However, this is also giving rise to a potential threat to company culture and reduced opportunity for social interaction and relationships. For some employees, remote working has led to a degree of personal isolation. Where leaders are no longer able to have informal face to face engagements, there is even a risk to culture as leaders struggle to know what is really going on.
The key message is that the policy debate needs to be more nuanced. The current debate is heavily influenced by
the pursuit of flexibility and wellbeing issues for employees, which is understandable. However, the impact on
customers and on business models needs to be carefully considered too and organisations must be able to decide
what working arrangements best suits the business whilst taking account of individual needs.
‘Strategic Employment Relations’
T: +353 (0) 1 2166302
M: +353 (0) 87 2433038
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for practical guidance only and does not constitute legal or case specific advice. The answers to specific situations will vary depending on the circumstances of each case. This is not a substitute for specific professional advice relevant to individual circumstances facing your business.