Insights from a talk with Kevin Green…

So I had the absolute pleasure of an audience with Kevin Green, former Chief Exec of the REC.  Thanks to him, Natwest, Miles Consulting, Saffreys Champness and Brabners for hosting such a brilliant event. Certainly, if you ever get the opportunity to a talk by Kevin, it is certainly not an opportunity to be missed, he is extremely knowledgable, insghtful and engaging.  Really passionate about employment and the recruitment industry.  The event was split into two halfs – Macro level, nationwide recruitment trends and operational trends we should all be looking at as Recruitment business owners.

I’ve never heard an individual so knowledgable about nationwide recruitment trends and able to talk so passionately about how that affects us on a day to day basis.

It’s not as bad as we’re led to believe…

The first trend to talk about is that the UK has a truly fantastic jobs market.  We lost over 1 million people from the public sector – yet have the lowest employment in years, so reemployed these folk and created a net increase of 2.7million jobs over the last few years.  Well done private sector…Not quite as bad as we’re led to believe are we.

Clarity on the STEM skills shortage.  

He spoke about there being a definite labour shortage – a shortage of folk to simply perform critical tasks – from Barista’s to operatives etc.  A skills shortage, i.e Engineering where the UK economy loses 50000 Engineers each year, yet only 30000 people a year leave Uni with a STEM subject, a proportion of which go into an engineering job.  Surely to be successful post Brexit – we will need to resolve this?  A talent shortage – people with those softer skills – leadership, critical thinking, change managers  (and instigators), that we have to facilitate the up skilling of our workforce and students in all areas, but particularly with these softer skills

A 2/3 careers in your lifetime?

A point I found fascinating was the increasing average age of the population.  We’re living longer, our state pension is eroding, so in very simple terms the circa “40 year career” is over.  We’ll now be working for over 60 years, A. the state pension age is getting longer into our life, but B. we’re living longer post retirement so will need larger reserves to fund our rock and roll lifestyles into our 90’s.  Kevin spoke about the fact it will become the norm to have a couple of “career changes” in that time, can you imagine that you’ll do the same thing for 50/60 years?  Also for those impacted by AI – you will need to re-skill.  For some, this will be a necessity over the next 10-20years as AI takes over a job they’ve built their academics and career around.  There’s a book by Lynda Gratton, called the 100 year life that talks more about this.

Untapped source of talent

Part-time workers – there are over 8.5 million part-time workers in the UK.  Yet very few of the jobs (only 8%)we advertise offer flexible working (could / would someone who’s part time work full time, if they could build the role around their family and WFH?) or job share (could two part-timers do your full time role?). Surely something to consider building into your business, particularly if you’re Labour, Skills or Talent short?

Is AI really coming for your job? 

So Automation / AI / Big Data… Robots are taking over our jobs… Well, a fact I knew but hadn’t really processed, is that we’ve been automating jobs for at least 20years, ask General Motors and they’ve been removing people from their manufacturing processes for decades.  However, the trend that is set to continue over the next 10 years or so (and it’s already been happening for 20years) is that the jobs market will grow in the low paid, more unskilled roles and the highly skilled, mega niche – the folks in the middle (co-ordinators, middle managers, analysts,) will find themselves being squeezed out and needing to re-skill – Big data is coming for them.

  • NB/ data from the OECD shows that every developed economy has grown their jobs market in both highly skilled and low skilled jobs.
  • Apparently, there is a well known institution already working on an AI platform to reduce a workforce from 50,000 to 500 – yes, you read right FIFTY THOUSAND TOFIVE HUNDRED.  Mind blowing.
  • In fact, there are 10 million jobs at risk from AI automation, or 38% of the working population, time to set up a business re-skilling these folk!
  • Kevin menioned that driverless cars could affect the 1 million logistics and driving jobs in the country, thinking about the rate at which driverless technology is developing (incident in las vegas aside), who can disagree?
  • Check out the book by Gary Kasparov – Factfulness.

Two facts, which make total sense, and these floored me:

  • General Motors – Revenue per head $270k across their 247,000 employees.
  • Facebook – $20.7m revenue per head for their 17,000 employees worldwide.  AS recruiters we’d be doing well at £147k per head!!

Flexible workforce increase

So we’re already seeing an increase in the number of self-employed / flexible and temp workforce, particularly as an aging population with great skills, knowledge and networks go into more consulting and temporary arrangements. Interestingly, Kevin believes that “millenials” will also want to be their own boss, particularly those with high demand skills – eCommerce, Digital, Data, Big Data, Software etc. As we get longer in the tooth and longer into our careers, as the skills market gets shaken up by technology, surely this will happen more?  Time get into or increase your temp / contract book even further…

Politics, not policy rules OK

Lastly, Kevin made a small point on the politics of the labour market, I feel that he could have spoken for hours about it.  the fact that a 4 or 5 year term rules policy, to get votes and have a government in power, not for the long term benefits of UK citizens, the job market and therefore the economy overall.  I’d love to hear more insights about this, but I think he’ll be writing a book on it.

So there we are, some of the Macro trends discussed by Kevin Green at the Recruitment Leaders event last Wednesday, really interesting from a truly passionate and insightful man.