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REC public sector summit spotlights recruitments challenges and opportunities
A stark picture of how the proposed public expenditure cuts will impact on the recruitment industry was painted at the RECs Public Sector Resourcing Summit attended by more than 170 delegates yesterday.
In the week in which both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne spelled out their planned programmes of financial restraint,  the REC summit offered members, HR professionals and employers a chance to hear from experts what the changes will mean to the recruitment industry.
The 6.2 billion reduction in public sector spending already announced includes freezes on recruitment and the use of agency staff. These were explained as being just the tip of the iceberg as further measures are expected in the emergency budget on June 22.
Against this background, the summit looked at partnerships between public sector employers and recruitment businesses over the next five years to minimise the pain and maximise the opportunities. 
The REC has highlighted in its public sector campaign of which the summit was the focal point, the three key reasons why the recruitment industry continues to have an important role to play :- the need for new leadership talent the use of specialist contractors and interim managers to effect the changes and for a flexible workforce to be maintained throughout.
The reality of the current situation was spelled out by Sir Peter Gershon, the Governments efficiency adviser, who re-emphasised that the national debt was currently 772 billion.
In his keynote speech, he said: There will be some very tough challenges ahead in the Governments Spending Review this autumn with reductions of up to 20 per cent in some areas of public expenditure to be expected.
He said the way forward was to adopt more holistic approaches to procurement along with different delivery mechanisms and increased use of the private and third sectors.
When asked about the future use of agency workers, he said: Clearly, parts of the public sector provision of frontline services depend heavily on agency and temporary staff. I do not think you can transform the situation overnight or in the medium term.
Reductions of up to 30 per cent in local government budgets were forecast by Dean Shoesmith, President of the Public Sector People Managers Association along with a 20 to 25 per cent cut in headcounts.
Dr David Halpern, the Institute of Governments Director of Research, described the public sectors silo structure as being a major constraint on transforming public services and cited examples of how both Canada and Sweden have turned around their national deficits through efficiency reviews and other mechanisms.
Jackie Orme, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the emphasis now was no longer on volume but on adding more value especially when seeking the new leadership talent for the public sector.
A need for a rebalance in the economy driven by private sector growth was called for by David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and also greater parity between public and private sector pay.
In conclusion at the end of the summit, Kevin Green, the RECs Chief Executive said:
The views expressed today confirm that were heading for a period of fundamental change. There is a real once in a lifetime opportunity for radical reforms to improve the UKs public sector organisations.
 Reform and transformation will require strong leadership and fresh talent with the capacity to execute real change. A flexible workforce will be key to this process which is why were working closely with public sector employers to ensure that the focus is on long-term sustainable reform rather than a slash and burn approach to both jobs and services.
To coincide with the Summit, the RECs Research Industry Unit published Hire Power, a practical business case to help hiring, procurement and HR managers make informed recruitment choices.
REC Construction comments on changes to construction industry apprenticeships grants
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Construction sector
group has responded to  the reduction in the Construction Skills grant, promising to play its part in increasing the number of apprenticeships.
Commenting on the news, Simon Noakes, Chair of REC Construction, said: "It
is in the best interests of everyone in the construction industry to seek ways to increase the number of construction apprenticeships, to ensure our industry has a future labour supply. This is even more important now given the funding shortages facing all skills councils.
"We will continue to encourage our members to find more creative ways of
devising and promoting apprenticeships with contractors and continue to
work with industry bodies such as Construction Skills to see how we can
play our part."
At a recent REC Construction meeting in Manchester, members discussed
with Construction Skills some of the ways agencies can encourage more
on-site training for construction agency workers. Members also shared
best practice and advice on how to run successful apprenticeship schemes
with contractors.
REC Technology: New Tesco appointment shows IT thinking key to future business growth
The appointment of Philip Clarke as the new Chief Executive Officer of Tesco highlights the increasing importance of Technology as the main engine for future business growth according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Technology sector group.
In his new role starting next year when he takes over from Sir Terry Leahy, Mr Clarke, the former Tesco IT director, will be responsible for overseeing the growth of Tesco, a global brand which already accounts for one in every eight pounds spent in the UK.
Commenting on this news, Jeff Brooks, Chair of REC Technology said: "Philip Clarkes appointment is welcome news and backs up a trend identified in our Technology 2020 research."
"This shows that over the next decade IT, IT functions and IT strategic thinking will be the most important factor determining whether businesses thrive or languish".
REC offers advice on time off for employees during the World Cup
With the nation about to be struck by World Cup fever, the REC is offering some timely advice to its members on the regulations governing time off during sporting events, including staff, who go off sick or take duvet days during the tournament.
A new model policy has now been published for employers to make employees aware of where they stand on absences and other behaviour while the tournament is on and especially when the team they support is playing.
Commenting on the new model document, Fiona Coombe, the RECs Director of Professional Development said:
Employers need to ensure that effective policies covering major sporting events including the World Cup are in place. In particular, they should make it clear that they are monitoring attendance more closely during the tournament. Should an employees sickness absence then be directly linked to football fixtures, an investigation may take place and they may be subject to disciplinary action.
She said employers should be realistic about employees enthusiasm to watch the games while trying to ensure minimum staffing levels are maintained. So providing a range of options such as encouraging employees to take paid or unpaid annual leave on relevant match days on a first come, first served basis, and offering flexible working or even screening matches in the workplace may provide for a more enjoyable World Cup for all, even if England do not win.
IT staff still in demand says new REC Technology report
The demand and supply for ICT labour and skills has increased for another quarter according to the latest Technology Demand and Supply report, published today by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Technology Sector Group.
Demand for ICT labour has increased by four per cent and for skills by ten per cent while supply of staff increased, the ratio between demand and supply now standing at 1.5 potential applications per job.
The report states that there are now 60,000 unemployed IT professionals and 68,000 employed jobseekers competing for 86,000 job vacancies. This however is not replicated across all skills with some areas being highlighted as difficult to recruit for including Systems Developers, Architects, .NET and SQL SVR.
Commenting on the results, Jeff Brooks, Chair of REC Technology said: These results show that the demand within the sector continues to grow and return to good health. At ground level, members say that things have improved markedly from the low points of late 2008 and early 2009.  IT systems are clearly seen as tools that can help drive growth and help reduce cost across the enterprise and we expect to see this growth maintained.
I would also re-iterate our message to the coalition Government that IT can help reduce costs within the public sector and continued investment in technology is vital if Government is to both improve services and reduce budgets.
Membership boost gives new voice to marketing and media recruiters
Following a huge growth in membership numbers which include most of the key players, the Recruitment & Employment Confederations Marketing, Media and Creative (MMC) Sector Group has launched a pro-active campaign on ethics and standards within the sector.
The RECs MMC Sector Group, the only organisation dedicated to representing specialised recruiters in these high-profile creative industries, has achieved more than a 200 per cent increase in its membership over the past year.  The major priority now is to drive best practice, professionalism and ethics in the sector.
Commenting on the outlook for the sector, Steve Hyde, Chief Executive of Inspired and Hamblin Selection Ltd and a member of the MMC Group said: Our sector needs a strong voice and presence. Coming together as a specialist group provides us with a real opportunity to influence external perceptions and benefit from the kind of practical support services that will drive the sector forward.
2009 was a difficult year for the recruitment industry, especially for our sector. As we emerge from the recession, we need to prepare for the commercial and public policy challenges that lay ahead. In particular, we have a new government to engage with on specific issues such as consultancy cuts in the public sector and the need to address skills shortages in the sector. There has never been a more important time to get ahead of the debate and build a strong collective voice for the marketing, media and creative recruitment industry.
REC MMC is responsible for influencing politicians and decision makers within the industry, building links with employers and representative bodies and promoting best practice and ethics within its membership. 
In addition to the ongoing campaign on standards and ethics, specific focus areas over the coming months will include:
Promoting the positive role of communications and PR professionals following recently announced cuts in consultancy services in the public sector
Analysing and pre-empting key trends such as skills shortages facing the sector and technological developments
Detailed future skills evaluations across the various disciplines of the sector
Monitoring the impact of online recruitment and social media as part of employer resourcing and recruitment strategies


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