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REC AWR Monitor Impact varies by sector

REC AWR Monitor – Impact varies by sector but overall demand is holding up and recruiters remain upbeat

The REC has published its latest AWR Monitor which collates monthly data on the agency market and tracks implementation issues flagged by recruiters. The impact varies from sector to sector but the feedback from regional and sector group meetings remains relatively upbeat.

Headline messages from this month’s AWR Monitor are as follows:

Although temporary billings have contracted slightly over recent months, the latest REC/KPMG Report on Jobs shows an improvement on December. The Report also shows a slight increase in the rates of pay for temporary and contract staff.

This month’s REC JobsOutlook – which tracks future hiring intentions – shows that 84 per cent of employers plan to increase or maintain current use of temporary staff over the coming year. While still short of the 1.6m peak, temporary working remains at historic levels.

There continues to be strong demand for temporary/contact staff in engineering, IT & computing, secretarial/clerical as well as in the healthcare sector. Demand remained lower in financial services and hotel & catering.

When asked specifically about any changes made since October 2011, two out of three employers (68 per cent) said that they had not made any changes in their approach to agency workers. This indicates that flexible staffing arrangements are firmly embedded within employer resourcing strategies.

Recent challenges flagged by recruiters include the viability of new supply models and clients being reluctant to share information. Some clients are working under the assumption that LCCs are automatically exempt which is not correct. Agencies also highlighted specific communication issues when supplying through vendors.

Reviewing the latest data and feedback from members, Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services says: “The regulations have created significant cost and bureaucracy for the industry but the need for fast and flexible staffing arrangements is firmly embedded and is actually increasing in some sectors. This is partly due to resourcing cycles accelerating and employers seeking suitably skilled staff at extremely short notice to fill shifts and meet spikes in demand.

“Clients are approaching the regulations in different ways with some working in full partnership with agencies and others adopting a more detached stance. Encouraging the collaborative approach is a core aim of our ongoing client campaign. A further priority is to showcase the ongoing benefits of agency work through research and proactive initiatives such as the Flexible Work Commission.”

Examples of some of the anecdotal feedback from REC members can be found below:

“We planned in advance, and while have found the regulations to mean significantly more administration for us, actual disruption to business has been kept to a minimum.”

“AWR has caused an increase of administration for the temp desk. This gives less time for sales and the registration of good candidates.”

“One of the upsides of the whole AWR saga is that agencies have been able to forge stronger relationships with key accounts and demonstrate their awareness and ability to make things work on the ground.”

“Most of the major pharmaceutical companies regard all limited company contractors as outside AWR. These are major multinationals and major clients so we are being dictated to by them.”

“Agency staff play a crucial front line role in the healthcare sector. Despite the cuts and the AWR coming into force, there is an ongoing need to be able to bring in highly skilled staff at short notice.”

“A lot depends in who we are working with within the employer organisation. Our discussions have been mainly with operational staff and procurement rather than with HR.”

“Looking ahead, it will be crucial to evaluate the long-term commercial viability of new supply models. This will largely depend on whether employers are prepared to engage in genuine dialogue with their recruitment partners on making thinks work and sharing risk.”

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