Published on 2nd March 2023
For its fourth edition, the Awards competition by the World Employment Confederation has attracted a record-high number of applications. WEC National Federation members had a lot of initiatives to be proud of, demonstrating the positive contribution that the HR services industry is making for labour markets across the world.
Three categories were open for competition: “Leadership in Social Innovation”, “Outstanding Advocacy” and “Remarkable Initiative”. Judges scored each application and ultimately, three finalists stood out in each category. Let’s see what projects they submitted!
Agest (Chile) – Avoiding prohibition of staffing by the new Constitution
As a consequence of social uprising in Chile, a plebiscite was made in 2021 to design and implement a new constitution for the country. One of the most radical proposals by the draft constitution was to prohibit outsourcing within the core business of any company, a proposal modelled after the current regulation in Mexico which had resulted in significant losses of business and employment opportunities.
Agest quicky reacted by liasing with their Mexican counterpart, AMECH, through the World Employment Confederation network, to learn from their experience. It then developed a campaign towards the representatives drafting the new constitution, demonstrating how their proposal would negatively affect formal employment opportunities and the overall economic situation in the country. The proposal was eventually voted out and the staffing industry is now better recognised as a prime provider of formal and quality work.
ASA (United States) – Advocacy for travel nurses
As healthcare facilities were inundated with patients infected by Covid-19 while facing a chronic shortage of qualified nurses, the staffing industry was faced with regulation on travel nurses that risked making the situation more dire. 15 states introduced bills, at least eight of which proposed capping what a staffing firm could charge healthcare facilities, which would have resulted in lower nurse wages.
The American Staffing Association took action, creating a national coalition of healthcare staffing firms, members and non-members, to push back against these proposals. Through regular meetings with legislators and broader communication, ASA demonstrated how rate caps would harm the healthcare system by driving nurses out of the state or the profession and therefore aggravate the nurse shortage. As a result, no federal or state bill has passed with nurse rate caps at this stage.
AMECH (Mexico) – Securing subcontracting of sales promotion as a specialised service
In 2021, sub-contracting of personnel (outsourcing) was prohibited in Mexico. Only Subcontracting Specialized Services was allowed, as long as these services were not the main economic activity of the company that hired them. One of the most requested subcontracting services in Mexico is ‘sales promotor’ in self-service and department stores, personnel which make publicity and marketing for brands. Under the new law, such personnel had to be hired directly by the stores and could no longer be contracted through staffing agencies.
Industry association AMECH demonstrated that these functions were actually specialised and should continue to be supplied through agencies, putting otherwise 800 000 workers in the sector at risk of loosing their job. The government accepted that the sector developed guidelines together with AMECH to clarify the situation and ensure that the law was respected while securing employment opportunities and business perspectives in sales promotion.
swissstaffing (Switzerland) – Occupational health and safety industry solution
swissstaffing developed an occupational health and safety industry solution QAS (Quality and Safety), certified by the Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety (FCOS). This solution offers staffing agencies in Switzerland information and training to ensure that agency workers operate in safe conditions. It clarifies the responsibilities between staffing agencies and contracting companies, and thus should ultimately reduce the number of accidents for agency workers.
By acting to improve the health and safety of its workers, the staffing industry represented by swissstaffing is taking its social responsibility and works in partnership with a network of stakeholders to minimize the risks for agency workers.
REC (United Kingdom) – Restart
At the very onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation campaigned the UK government for additional support services that would help those most directly impacted by the pandemic and the associated economic downturn. The REC partnered with Maximus, an employability services provider, to submit a bid for the ‘Restart scheme’ set up by the government. Under this – first of his kind – partnership, Maximus offered training and development that helped people get ready for work, while REC members, provided the matching service between candidates and clients.
As a result, 250 people, who were previously long-term unemployed, were placed into work in 2022. In addition to relieving the pressure on workforce planning and attraction, for businesses that have struggled to economically deliver without the desired workforce, the scheme has helped REC members attract candidates in struggling regions, helping local economies and contributing positively to the UK’s GDP.
ABU (The Netherlands) – Breaking taboo on money worries
ABU was the first industry association in the Netherlands to partner with the NSR, a public-private initiative, on “Geldfit”, a tool to help people better manage their finance and thus break the taboo of money problems. Nearly 31,000 temporary agency workers who were made aware of Geldfit thanks to ABU members and 15% (4,521) took concrete steps to tackle their financial issues.
By promoting this tool towards agency workers, ABU and its members take responsibility as employers in a societal problem that is in the collective interest to address. This initiative aligns with ABU’s objectives to contribute to the Social Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations on ensuring decent work and reducing inequalities.
Polish HR Forum (Poland) – Creating a unique digital platform for the HR services community
In 2022, the Polish HR Forum ran a series of activities to mark its 20th anniversary. From mid-September to the end of November, it gathered the HR community twice a week through a digital platform to discuss current labour law issues and legislative changes, as well as to share good practices developed by its member companies in recruitment, onboarding, management and more.
The platform became a unique, free-of-charge source of knowledge profiled for the needs of the HR community, and the first digital solution strictly dedicated to the sector. More than 1500 users have been using the platform, contributing to building up the professionalism and reputation of the sector. As a next step, an e-learning platform will be launched to further support Polish HR Forum members as well as HR professionals from the Polish labour market.
ERF (Ireland) – An academic path to develop a sustainable pipeline of talent for the recruitment industry
To address the talent shortage that the recruitment sector is facing in Ireland, the Employment and Recruitment Federation (ERF) launched a bachelor degree for recruiters – the first in the world – in partnership with the National College of Ireland. It took ten years for the program to develop. Getting its own career path in the country’s framework of education gives the recruitment profession the recognition that it plays a crucial role for labour markets.
The degree is awarded via the apprenticeship route, with graduates conferring as ‘ Recruitment Executives’. 72 students are currently enrolled, with the first promotion to graduate in May 2023. The course involves blended learning, with hands-on recruitment work interspersed with study. This enables companies to mentor students to their values and culture and students to feel part of the team from day one.
Assolavoro (Italy) – “Welcome & Work” project
The “Welcome & Work” project was designed at the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022, through cooperation between the agency work sector and sectoral trade unions, to facilitate the reception of refugees arriving in Italy. 45 million euros were allocated to the initiative to provide employment and financial support services to refugees such as Italian language courses, targeted skills assessments, vocational training and a range of dedicated economic and welfare aid. Assolavoro also collaborated with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organisations to promote the project towards refugees across the country.
More than 3.000 people have benefitting from training courses with the vast majority being women (70%) and young people (21-40 years old, accounting for 58%). While the majority were Ukrainian refugees (69%), the project was also opened up to refugees from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia and Syria. The project is still going on until June 2023.
Each category’s winner will be known on 28 March during a ceremony held in Brussels, as part of the World Employment Conference 2023, WEC’s annual event.