20 May 2024
by Tania Bowers

APSCo UK and OutSource Policy Talk – Spring 2024

Professional recruiters and staffing professionals are at the heart of conversations around the changing nature of work, the state of the economy and skills needed for evolving job roles. Our Manifesto 2024 – Tackling the Professional Skills Crisis is driving conversations in Westminster and beyond after a very successful launch at the House of Commons on 24th April. 

Either Skills Training or Immigration – we think there is a third way. 

Given our manifesto’s title, articulating the damage to growth caused by skills shortages is central to our mission – and we are receiving a much more positive response from policy teams in government to our ask for a short-term highly skilled project visa and more flexible visitors’ visa terms than we have received previously.  A meeting with Minister Pursglove, Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border is upcoming.   Of understandable concern to the government is the risk of displacement of domestic upskilling by immigration, as may have happened in the past in sectors such as construction, so business investment in domestic skill training is essential.

It's all about AI  

AI and recruitment is top of many executive and policy maker agendas.  Listening to employers and experts at various events held by CBI, Reed Screening and Manpower, I’m struck by the shared message around skills-based hiring.  Character core strengths, increasingly identified as key to the future AI-augmented workforce, such as curiosity, adaptability and resilience can be strengthened in multiple ways in education, work and leisure. I am looking into how APSCo members can offer practical help to young people and anyone looking for a change of direction to adapt to the increased focus on skills-based hiring. 

Critically, we also have guidance for members on adopting AI knowingly, transparently and responsibly.   

This is of paramount importance to our sector’s reputation. 

The New Deal and the Unions – making sure professional recruitment is understood 

With a reported showdown with the Unions diffused over the New Deal for Working People, Labour shadow ministers are busy consulting with businesses, including APSCo. Primarily we need to articulate the importance and strengths of professional recruitment and staffing outsourcing, making clear the differentiation between our members and high-volume, low-paid outsourcing prevalent in the public sector.  

A clear definition of genuine self-employment is something long sought after by us, and anticipated in Labour’s manifesto, but APSCo will continue to argue that change must be targeted at those who need protection and the professional staffing market must not yet again be collateral damage, bound up in red tape through their new deal policies. Expressly excluding the highly paid out from the Agency Workers Regulations is one way to reduce complexity.   

A meeting with Kate Bell, Assistant General Secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was an opportunity to hear about their concerns around the supply chain, including umbrella companies. I am keen to keep up engagement particularly on AI in the workplace with their recently published draft AI bill and I have been involved with a working group on AI standards alongside the TUC over recent months at the Turing Institute and their report is pending. 

APSCo Needs You! Policy Asks: 

2023 was a tough year for members and with signs emerging of a better H2 2024, now is the time to contribute to get the policies you want adopted in party manifestos ahead of an election. Submit a ready prepared letter to your MP. 

To inform conversations with Ministers I am looking to engage with APSCo and OutSource members working with clients in particularly skills short sectors, or those strategically important to the UK, such as power generation and electrical grid upgrade.  What do your clients need from policymakers to meet net-zero targets?  Contact me at [email protected]

There’s still time to register for our half-year policy meeting: in person (or virtually) on the 18th of June afternoon in London. If you wish to register for this event, please email [email protected]

We will be discussing two campaigns at the meeting – digging deeper into policy recommendations on the regulation of the recruitment market and apprenticeship levy spending.