24 Apr 2024

APSCo launches ‘Manifesto to beat the skills crisis’

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has unveiled its comprehensive strategy aimed at bolstering the UK's economic vitality by fortifying the labour market. The manifesto launch unfolded at an exclusive event held at the House of Commons earlier today (Wednesday, April 24th), drawing the presence of Government Ministers alongside a bipartisan gathering of MPs and peers.

The professional recruitment trade body calls upon policymakers from all major political parties to embrace its proposals, crafted to address the nation's professional skills deficit, elevate overall productivity, and propel economic advancement.

Outlined in the manifesto are four pivotal avenues for action:

  1. Creating the right workforce regulatory environment: APSCo advocates for regulatory reforms that safeguard individual workers, stimulate economic expansion, and optimise productivity. This involves exempting highly compensated contractors from the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 and conducting reviews of Off-Payroll IR35 and the employment status of self-employed professionals.

  2. Supporting workforce skills growth, training and talent development: The strategy emphasises the necessity for expanded access to flexible modular training under the Apprenticeship Levy, coupled with heightened financial backing for regional hubs. Additionally, facilitating access to international talent via flexible short-term "project" visas for highly skilled workers is recommended, alongside a heightened focus on skilled immigration within trade agreements.

  3. Introducing policies that drive fairness and inclusion in the new world of work: APSCo underscores the urgency for legislative adjustments to align with the rapid evolution of hiring and working methodologies. This encompasses enacting laws to bolster 'skills-first hiring' practices and incentivising workforce reintegration through tax incentives for occupational health, mental health, and health screening initiatives.

  4. Harnessing technology for the skills revolution: The strategy underscores the pivotal role of technology in driving economic progress. This entails further developing existing 'AI in recruitment' guidelines to establish recognised and auditable standards. Any regulatory measures should align with global directives and hold AI developers and technology providers accountable for transparency and equity in their offerings.


Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo commented:


Research from our members, Trusted Partners and Global Strategic partners such as LinkedIn are all pointing to the same issue in the UK; a severe shortage of professional skills that is only growing. Businesses are facing a critical lack of workers, with IT, digital, engineering and healthcare some of the hardest hit remits. For the country to remain competitive, our labour market needs to be world-leading, fair and flexible. Our manifesto outlines exactly how that can be achieved. In what is already proving to be a highly contentious general election year, it is crucial that the major parties have a plan in place to beat the skills crisis that’s prevailed for far too long in the UK.

We’ve already started engaging with key policy makers across the core political parties – many of whom were in attendance at the launch event itself – and it’s encouraging to note that these recommendations are aligned to the thinking of many MPs and policy influencers. Politicians of all parties recognised that the recruitment and outsourcing sectors play a crucial role in the strength of the labour market and the UK economy. We are pleased to hear that APSCo’s manifesto aligns with the core ideas of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democratic and all parties that are looking to retain seats in Westminster as the general election nears.