AN AGEING population will cause the overall participation rate of workers to drop by about 9 per cent over the next 40 years unless efforts are made to address the issue, according to chief economist of BT Financial Group, Chris Caton.
There are three ways in which to counterbalance the slowing in employment growth, according to Caton. “As people age, their willingness to take part in the labour force declines. Australia needs to offset the effects of this through immigration, keeping people in the workforce longer, and lifting female participation rates,” he said.
Speaking at the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) state of the industry address, Caton painted a picture of some of the external forces that will shape recruitment, such as the growing skills and labour shortage, demographic shifts in the workforce, the industrial relations landscape and the onward march of technology.
Stephen Shepherd, president of the RCSA, said the association was working closely with government on initiatives to boost participation among the ‘untapped workforce’ in order to help them gain a foothold in the employment market through flexible and on-hire work.
While the recruitment industry is currently enjoying strong revenue growth, it must use the booming market to increase profitability and improve the way it partners with clients, according to Shepherd.
“This industry has always been a barometer of the broader economic climate. In good times such as this, we help drive the growth of business because it relies on people – their labour and their talent,” he said.
“But we need to make the most of this buoyant market to develop service models that deliver long term profitability for our businesses.”
Shepherd also spoke about challenges for the recruitment industry, in the face of ongoing automation of traditional services.
“We need to move beyond the old transactional role of sourcing candidates and supplying shortlists to client. We need to be providing professional advice and services to clients, so that what was once value-added advice is now critical market information, and one of the agency’s primary services,” said Shepherd.
Julie Mills, CEO of the RCSA, also said that recruitment professionals need to become more sophisticated in how they work with jobseekers.
“The industry is maturing in its approach to working with candidates – building long-term relationships, stepping up candidate care, and using innovative new methods to find them,”she said.
This often requires a new set of skills and knowledge, and Mills said there had been a positive response to its Accredited Professional Recruiter program with more than 1,000 consultants participating since its launch this year.