A report commissioned by the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association of Australia & NZ (RCSA), the peak industry body for Australian job agencies, says Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19-induced recession will be heavily dependent on the services of labour hire and recruitment companies.
The report said businesses are likely to want flexible workforce solutions in the current level of economic uncertainty, and those that use agency workers during the economic downturn and recovery are likely to achieve greater productivity and accelerate faster out of the expected economic downturn. Also known as labour hire, recruitment and staffing agencies, Australian job agencies employ people and assign them to work for clients in almost every industry.
When COVID-19 hit the ACT’s economy, around 8,700 jobs were lost in the immediate shutdown, raising the unemployment rate 1 percentage point to 4.2 per cent.
In response to COVID-19, job agency activity included a significant increase in rapid retraining and deployment, where people from declining sectors such as hospitality were retrained and deployed into high demand sectors such as aged care and new Australian-based call-centres.
The report also found recruitment and labour-hire companies can help displaced workers transition back to permanent employment in a recovering economy without losing the protections of workplace laws such as workers’ compensation insurance and fair working conditions, occupational health and safety, access to long service leave and modern wages and conditions under awards.
RCSA says agency staffing firms are likely to stimulate additional production of almost $1 billion over the course of the economic recovery, potentially reducing the impact on the Australian Government’s budget by almost $200 million over the recovery through reduced JobSeeker payments and increased tax revenues.
Effective People spokesperson Kris Milne said as a member of the peak industry body, he hopes the current #workingsooner campaign by RCSA is encouraging people affected by COVID-19 job losses who are looking for work to sign up with a registered Australian job agency such as Effective People.
“The difference between a member of the RCSA and a non-member, like any industry, is that as members, we need to adhere to a code of practice, and our focus is getting people into long-term work,” said Mr Milne.
“I think with the COVID-19, we need to redefine a new ‘normal'”, said Mr Milne, “because we have never been through a situation like this before, and it’s difficult to predict how the labour market will recover.
“What I think people need to do is start thinking long term, and if they can undertake contract work, a company like ours will look at their future, and their career path, and ensure they can get back on track in terms of their career.
“The boundaries of traditional recruitment methods have been stretched by COVID-19, and companies have had to find new methods to overcome restrictions,” said Mr Milne.
Research from the University of Melbourne showed that 38 per cent of agency workers transition to permanent employment within a year of working in contract agency work.
Effective People is currently recruiting for the ICT sector as the work can be done remotely and the flexible working model has created a need for added security.
“Sometimes during periods of uncertainty it pays to consider a role that isn’t quite your ideal job, that caters to your qualifications, in order to create a long term vision of securing your ideal job,” said Mr Milne.
“We’re on a lot of APS panels, so we’re able to place people in contracts which give provides them some security of income, and we build on that experience to ensure they have a future career path.
“We ensure they have fair working conditions, and access to all the on-the-job protection they are entitled to.”