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Musings from the 2019 RCSA World Employment Conference

December 11, 2019

  The RCSA World Employment Conference: Leadership in a New World of Work, held on the Gold Coast recently was a big success.


The speakers were uniformly excellent, the social events were fun and the networking was plentiful.


I took plenty of notes and over the subsequent weeks I have written additional notes based on various books and articles referred to by the keynote speakers.


The best summary of my conclusions has been provided by Deloitte’s Peter Williams. I have heard Pete present a few times before and he is always engaging, educational and energetic. The fundamental premise of his presentation “The Future of Work – Opportunities for Labour Market Enablers” is about taking opportunities.


One of Pete’s final slides captured this advice and his recommended action steps succinctly:


  • Think ahead

  • Orient towards partnerships

  • It’s people with technology

  • Learn faster to move faster


I have used these four action steps as a useful structure for my musings on (some of) what I took from the conference speakers.


1. Think ahead


Former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, mentioned that one of her regrets from her time in office was not enforcing a “cone of silence”: a time to think about what her priorities are, review them, and plan for effective action. She urged us to “Aim big on this front.” What might a recruitment agency owner or executive best spend their time thinking about?
A good place to start is to understand what customers are doing now and thinking about in the near term, with respect to talent acquisition and management.


John Nurthen of Staffing Industry Analysts shared much fascinating data about the trends SIA is identifying.


In the SIA’s Workforce Solutions Buyers Survey completed in September 2018 the respondents identified their current and near-term initiatives and priorities as follows:


  • Diversity/women/minority supplier program (56% of respondents reported this was in place, 29% of respondents said they would be exploring in next two years)

  • Analytics for evaluating vendors (43% in place – 47% exploring)

  • AI automation project to replace jobs (15% in place – 52% exploring)

  • Online staffing platforms (20% in place – 56% exploring)

  • Trying out new staffing suppliers (48% in place – 35% exploring)


A wise recruitment agency owner or executive should be looking very carefully at what impact these areas of talent acquisition are having, or might have, on their business.


Gus Balbontin, the opening speaker on day one of the conference, made a powerful point with his slide showing the respective home pages of Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet, from 2001.


Trip Advisor’s page was focused on helping travellers and tourist make better decisions about where to go, and how to get there. Lonely Planet’s home page was focused on selling guide books.


Gus’s metaphor of “your company’s concrete” (a set way of thinking and doing inside a company, that’s not focused on what the customer wants and how they are behaving) is one I am sure stuck for many in the audience.


2. Orient towards partnerships