World leader says ANZ labour market looks bright

Labour market expert and President of the World Employment Confederation, Bettina Schaller, said Australia and New Zealand are well positioned as global leaders in defining new markets. The way forward, she said, is dependent on our ability to champion two key aspects.


The first thing you notice about Bettina Schaller is her eyes; piercing blue glaciers that seem to reflect an inner spark so bright it could possibly draw out the best in anyone she glances upon.


Then you hear her speak, and you know with complete clarity that her voice is otherworldly – as her words reach your eardrums, they almost echo like a familiar memory tickling at your mind; perhaps the echoes are the memories of the many people she has spoken with from across the world.


Bettina is gifted. She has met people from all walks of life, and from all the far-reaching parts of the globe, and she speaks for them; representing their views, their needs, and hopes for a better future.


The international labour market expert is currently the President of the World Employment Confederation (WEC) and also carries a leading position with The Adecco Group as the Senior Vice President Head Group Public Affairs.


Bettina also holds advocacy roles with the OECD and G20-B20, and still plays a critical role in the World Economic Forum.


Knowing a little about how Bettina grew up, it’s easy to see how she became the figurehead for the international labour and staffing industry. She was born to Swiss parents and lived her years between South America and Europe. She went to a French school and said she was indulged by an international life which saw her ‘Latin heart’ take her across foreign politics and later, a move into the private employment sector.


“There’s a true Spanish heart beating within this 1.85 metre frame,” Bettina said with a laugh. “I fell into the industry with open eyes and an open heart and more than 11 years later, I’m still delighted to be here and am always looking to tackle the political environment when it comes to advocating for workers and finding solutions.


“Becoming a mother 14 years ago was a key moment for me. It pushed me to leave a job and pursue a career with Adecco Group and what then seemed to be a small life moment turned out to be a decision that pointed me in my best direction,” Bettina said.


The international sensation and Adecco C-Suiter soon integrated advocacy roles within the World Employment Confederation and it wasn’t long before her talents were recognised, and she was appointed President.


“WEC is all about teamwork; it’s never one person, alone. We are the voice for private employment services on the global stage. We advocate and campaign for our 50 federation members including RCSA, and act as the world’s largest provider of workforce solutions.


“At WEC, I’ve been driving a place at the table and ensuring the voice is the perspective of the sector and being heard and considered. It’s more important than ever that labour markets be well regulated spaces, and of course an environment that juggles the employment of workers, the competitiveness of countries and productivity of businesses and that’s when we’ll see more wars of talent.


“Countries more and more are measuring themselves on talent, expertise and know-how amongst its ranks so being able to set up frameworks for that talent to succeed, and to have them represented is so important.”


The leader said we need to be as ‘loud as we can be’ in driving best practice frameworks.


“Over the past decade, there has been incredible transformation owing to automation and digitisation. People’s approach to work has been changing under globalisation and these elements have had effects on labour markets,” she said.


“We need to look beyond the public and government spheres and see what we can do as individuals and as businesses. We are involved in all the key platforms that address labour market policy, such as the G20 Employment and Education Task Force, which is presided by Italy this year. These are important gatherings as we advocate for diverse forms of work, ensuring all types of contracts have their space in their country’s economic fabric.


“Whether it’s a temp agency contract, a gig contract or permanent placement, all of the contracts should present the same level of benefits and security for the worker. We need someone to bring those elements into discussion. All of this must happen of course under the umbrella of the International Labour Organisation, which sets the global labour standards, develops policies and devises programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.


“The skills discussion has also become more about linking education to the world of work and that’s where we have been particularly active of late. The OECD, IMF and the World Bank from a finance perspective have come to realise the important nature of labour markets.”


According to Bettina, ANZ has all the ingredients to be hugely successful labour markets and said the future was bright if we could take command over a couple of key areas.


“The biggest challenge I see for Australia and New Zealand is in connection with IT and digital. Some sectors that have seen the arrival of full digitisation including driverless trucks, and in transport and logistics which is disrupting the employment landscape. We need to be able to skill people and link them to drive digital transformation,” she said.


“Our sector has a huge role to play because of the knowledge and visibility we have on the labour market needs; we need to translate the types of skills that will be needed for the future of work.


“The second big consideration for ANZ needs to take into account the effects of the pandemic, what changes that has seen in people’s preferences in how people want to work (and can work), and where. There’s an element of reshaping the rules of the game and RCSA is a driving partner in these conversations with us.”


Bettina believes that every country will need more experts in the field of HR who can build the expertise of its people and incorporate the right education and training that will benefit its people and by extension, their labour market and the world.


“Australia and New Zealand to me are testing grounds for innovation and picking up certain sectors and driving HR solutions. The two countries have always been ready to jump in. We’ve seen a great take up of the Safely Back to Work alliance when the pandemic hit, and the Love Your Work campaign was well ahead of the international game,” she said.


“We all know it, but the world is going to look radically different in the years ahead. Having an open mindedness to innovate and try new things, from any WEC or RCSA member is so important.


“While we go about this way of thinking and innovating, it all needs to come from a human centric perspective that delivers social impact (while making money) and bettering livelihoods. This should be the underlying purpose, and this is where the richness lies.


“If our labour markets rally around the workers, we will be an unbeatable force. Being a voice and having a seat at the table, is not easy. It requires time and expertise and quality in what’s put forward. RCSA and every of its members are crucial in delivering these messages and in doing so, advocating for the needs of the labour market. You can’t be passive in this game; be as proactive as you can, share your solutions and invest yourself in the initiatives being put forward.”


RCSA CEO Charles Cameron sits on the Board of the WEC and actively promotes the values and initiatives of the Australian and New Zealand staffing sectors.


If you would like to learn more about the work of WEC, visit wecglobal.org. To speak with RCSA regarding initiatives you believe could benefit from discussion, please connect with Ines Hage Nebyl in our advocacy team ihagenebyl@rcsa.com.au.


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