Published on 22nd June 2020
For all WEC members, the past months have been incredibly busy handling the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various measures adopted to slow down the contagion. Several countries around the world are now moving back to a “new normal” and the private employment services sector will be equally engaged in getting the economy on the road to recovery. But before diving in, WEC members took the time of an online workshop to exchange on the lessons learned across the globe on how the crisis was handled and how the sector can position itself to deliver its full potential.
The good news that came out almost unanimously from the 25 countries represented is that the private employment services sector is increasingly recognized by governments as a solution provider, a real partner to enlist in times of crisis. WEC’s national federations listed several problems that they are solving in their countries:
The exchange among WEC members also revealed some of the key ingredients that helped both companies and federations weather the crisis. First, leverage your network. Many organisations were quick in mobilizing their network, building new alliances across sectors or with public employment services. This was the case in Australia, the Netherlands or Ireland. Several federations also highlighted the renewed interest they saw from their members. In times of crisis, it is good to be able to count on a representative body, both nationally and globally, to get guidance and support. Second, stay connected. Despite the impossibility to meet in person, national federations kept close contacts with their members – whether through a good old phone call or sophisticated online tools – to assess their needs and prioritise their services Third, embrace digitalisation. Many barriers regarding the use of digital services have fallen during the crisis. In India, governments officials joined online conversations with the national federation. In Switzerland, e-signature was implemented to conclude labour contracts more easily.
At the end of the workshop, about 70% of the participants were ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the post-Covid outlook for the private employment services sector. Yet, there are many challenging blocks on the road to recovery but with the right policy framework, the private employment services sector will be a reliable partner. The sector hopes that restrictions on agency work lifted in countries like Italy, Switzerland or Colombia will not be reinstated. This way, the necessary flexibility for both businesses and workers to better cushion the impacts of any future crises and for labour markets to be more resilient will be ensured.
For more insights on how the global recruitment industry will drive positive change in the ‘new normal’, read this post by REC’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Tom Hadley.