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AER Autumn Conference highlights the importance of retaining top talent to spearhead change

AER Autumn Conference highlights the importance of retaining top talent to spearhead change

The latest meeting of the Association of Executive Recruiters (AER), the group within the Recruitment and Employment Confederation that focuses on the executive search market, highlighted the key challenges and opportunities within executive search over the coming years.

External speakers included Dr John Philpott, Chief Economist at the CIPD, Ann Gales, of AG Consulting and Rachael Hanley-Browne, Regional Director at the Center for Creative Leadership. The event also included an overview of recent policy developments such as the Equality Act and public sector procurement that have specific implications for search firms.

As the keynote speaker, Dr Philpott, painted a mixed picture for executive search but stressed that, despite the weakening jobs outlook, opportunities still exist in the short to medium term:

Employment recovered much better than expected in the first half of 2010 but forward looking indicators, including REC and CIPD employment surveys, suggest that conditions have since weakened.

The CIPD is somewhat more pessimistic than the OBR and currently forecasts higher unemployment (with an expected peak of 2.85 million by summer 2012) before private sector job growth is strong enough to offset public sector job losses.

Dr Philpott was keen to point out, however, that despite the weakening jobs market, there still exist opportunities for executive search firms:

With both the public sector and private sector businesses still struggling to recruit and retain top talent, most parts of the executive search market should, however, continue to experience better conditions than in 2008-9 with growth picking up markedly after 2012.

Dr Philpotts comments echo the RECs view that effective leadership is vital if the government is to make real and long overdue changes to the way the public sector operates.

The REC is spearheading a systematic campaign with top level politicians, to ensure the government understands the complex requirements for successfully staffing the public sector over the next 10 years, and the value of the role that executive search firms can provide by way of finding the right person that will be able to effectively implement change.

The other major priority for the AER and the REC is to continue building links with employers bodies and client organisations in order the actively promote the added value that executive search firms provide.

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