Recruitment trade body calls for a focus on skills in latest public policy lobbying focus
The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and APSCo OutSource – the trade bodies for the professional recruitment sector, Recruitment Process Outsourcing, Managed Service Providers, Statement of Work and Managed Projects – have outlined their key public policy focus for 2023, highlighting the need for the skills agenda to be high on the UK Government’s agenda.
In its outline of focus for the coming year, the trade association pinpointed three key areas that should be prioritised in policy actions:
- Providing access to skills, training and development: The country’s access to skills needs to be improved through a combination of new approaches to training and broadening of the uses of Apprenticeship Levy funds. A national skills strategy that recognises and supports urban hubs and provides a focus on modular, flexible training – including skills development for the flexible workforce – will be needed.
- A regulatory environment that supports growth of the labour market: Regulation is required that is both appropriate for the modern workforce and recognises the differing needs of the professional recruitment market, in particular the highly-skilled, self-employed segment of the workforce, which requires less protection through regulation. With the Employment Bill shelved, there is an opportunity to drive suitable change through the EU Reform Bill, to deliver clarity around applicability of regulation to professional contractors. Appropriate regulation of the umbrella sector is also crucial in the immediate future.
- Globally viable skills availability: The UK’s ability to attract international talent in a post-Brexit landscape needs to be strengthened. With a global shortage of experts in core sectors such as IT, engineering, healthcare, education, life sciences and ‘green skills’, a viable and attractive highly skilled visa route into the country is needed. This includes flexible, short-term visas for non-UK citizens.
Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director of APSCo comments:
The UK’s strength as a global powerhouse when it comes to its universities and skilled workforce is at risk in the current climate. A combination of Brexit, the introduction of Off Payroll regulation, political upheaval and a significant shortage of skills across key sectors has driven many sectors to an employment crisis point. While there is some economic uncertainty at the moment, this isn’t being preceded by the usual hiring freeze that we would expect to see. This is an additional indicator that the skills landscape in the UK has reached breaking point.
Fixing a talent shortage can’t be achieved overnight, but APSCo will continue to drive the skills agenda in its engagement with MPS and Government departments including BEIS and HMRC throughout the coming year. With the right regulatory approach and a commitment to bolstering the UK’s skills, the country could be in a great place to drive growth and business innovation. Without it, the strength of our economy will be at risk.