NOTE: As a futurist I was recently invited to present at an upcoming recruitment conference. After meeting with the organising committee to discuss what I might talk about, I was uninvited as they felt my presentation was too confronting. This is what I wanted to say.
When the first employment agency was created in the late 1670s, an entrepreneur wanted the British Government to embrace the concept. When it didn’t, he opened it himself – for a short while.
By the start of the 20th century however, the idea that specialist agencies could help employers find staff was well established in most developed countries and is now worth perhaps $11billion in Australia.
Until the 1980s the Australian labour market was, on one dimension at least, very homogeneous; most jobs were full-time, permanent positions with incumbents working a five day week. Since deregulation of the broader economy in general and employment and labour relations more specifically, working patterns and employer and employee expectations have become much more diverse.
First, working patterns
With the rapid rise in part-time, shift and contract employment as well as flexi-time and rostered days off, less than 10 per cent of Australians now work 9-5, Monday to Friday.
In an industry where small businesses are the norm, recruiters have been challenged to continue to provide profitable models of service delivery in a 24/7 world while the sector has had to change the way they work and charge for what they do.
There are a number of factors driving changes in employer and employee expectations, but principal among these has been technological change.
New technology ‘hollowing out the middle’
The first to feel the pinch were middle management, those in roles which had previously been secure because they were gatekeepers for key information – until computers became ubiquitous.
Next were the ‘middle-men’ who had populated all sorts of supply chains and had the dominant access to supplier, client and customer information – until the internet.