How will the Liberal government affect HR?

That’s just one of the questions HRM asked Randstad Canada’s inaugural CEO

Last month, Randstad Canada named Marc-Étienne Julien as its inaugural CEO – here, HRM caught up the Quebec-based business expert to find out more about overseeing the country’s leading HR services provider.

HRM: CEO is a newly-created position for Randstad Canada, how does it feel to take on the role?

MEJ: It’s exciting, very exciting actually. You know, I’m still on my first job – I joined Randstad right out of school and I’ve been here 14 years so I’ve seen the company evolve from a small SME to what it is now. When I joined we were about 50 or 60 employees, now there are more than 900 of us.

It’s definitely been an exciting journey – I’ve seen the company go through acquisitions, growth, downturn – and then out of it – and now I’m excited to have a chance to influence and bring it to the next level.

Randstad is the market leader in Canada so it makes it even more exciting as the industry is also young and being a market leader allows us to not only look after our own interests but to hopefully make a difference in the marketplace as well – that’s really our ambition here.

HRM: Are there any ambitions or plans that you’re keen to implement?

MEJ: One of the things that we’re really excited about is the launch of a program called Shaping Your Future – our objective is to take 100 of our own temporary employees who haven’t graduated from high school and send them back to school.

We’re partnering with technical schools so very often it’s just a matter of one year or two years going back to school for them to get a technical designation – it could be welding, it could be mechanics, it could be a basic office certification.

They’re very short in terms of the time you need to spend at school to get those sorts of certifications and they’re actually high in demand and very well payed jobs so we’re trying to convince employees that an extra year is going to make a huge difference in their living and we’re also helping to fill the skills gap by essentially offering to supply the availability of people in the marketplace.

HRM: As the Liberal government takes power, what changes do you predict will affect employers in coming years?

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HRM: As the Liberal government takes power, what changes do you predict will affect employers in coming years?

MEJ: It’s going to be interesting to watch what proportion of the promises will be there to observe but for sure the first and most obvious one is that the Liberals are committed to making significant investments so we’re hoping that’s going to create a lot more jobs available in the marketplace.

There were some very important promises made to supporting the integration of young people into the workplace so that’s an important one and it’s one that’s needed – Canada as a whole needs to do a much better job of directing its young people towards a brighter future and making sure we support them in that right direction.

Hopefully it’s going to tie into the skills gap because if we do a good job at that we should be able to direct them into education patterns that will lead them to jobs that are in demand and that are actually needed because if we don’t do that it’s a show stopper for a lot of our organizations to fill jobs.

HRM: Should employers feel more of an obligation to support young people into work?

Yeah I think that’s an obligation we should all have. Absolutely, I do believe that. No question.

That’s why we personally try to at least show by example, being the largest HR organization in the country, by creating and developing those programs and we’re trying to engage our clients in the dialogue because of course we need our clients’ support through that.

It’s a responsibility that we all have as good corporate citizens and that’s how we’re going to influence the future of our economy eventually because if we don’t take care of them, that skill gap is only going to grow bigger.

Globally, we’re competing against some countries that are exceptionally well-equipped from an education perspective and have the ability to generate a higher number of trained technical employees – whether you’re thinking about technology, IT or engineering – all the stem positions and that’s going to be the name of the game in the future.

The countries that can develop the most amount of expertise in those areas will be the countries that develop themselves faster because there are no more borders from a commercial standpoint – the borders from a commercial standpoint are going away – so now the competition is going to be on how countries can be more intelligent and create better talent.

For that, we need the government at the table for sure but companies and the private sector need to be engaged as well. We need both– we need the government to listen to what companies need but we also need companies to be involved in the community, involved with the schools, provide people with their first chance.

I’m lucky, Randstad provided me my first chance – I was hired straight from university and that has been an interesting journey so I think we need companies that will give people their chance like that.

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