It is an exciting time for the temporary staffing sector, with huge growth being seen across the industry as companies continue to embrace flexible working. 2018 brought with it some challenges in the temporary staffing industry, most notably the impact of Brexit, and the unknown longer-term immigration status of EU nationals living in the UK.
At the end of 2017 we made a series of predictions about developments in the temporary staffing sector, specifically that real wages would rise faster than the living wage, workforces would become more multi-skilled, and portfolio careers would rise amongst generation Z (those born after 1995). Much of the predictions came true throughout 2018, and as we move into 2019, here are our top 5 expectations for the temporary staffing sector in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become mainstream through specialisation
The recruitment industry has been relatively slow to embrace the power of AI when compared to other sectors. Whilst some innovative tools have been released for analysis of CVs, AI has made a minimal impact in the sector and is still often perceived as a “robot looking to take over my job”.
The reality is very different, and 2019 will bring AI into the fore in the temporary recruitment sector, driven by necessity and the wider changes in the sector. We anticipate AI to be used in more segregated silos which make it easier for recruitment consultants to understand the applications and benefits. For example, tools described as AI for candidate engagement, AI for CV analysis, AI for suitability, will come into play, highlighting use for specific areas of the recruitment journey.
The importance of cyber-security will top the list of company priorities
2018 saw the deployment of GDPR in the UK, which led many temporary staffing agencies to realise just how much personal and sensitive data they hold about candidates across their businesses. The threat of cyber-crime is growing across every industry, and although to date there has been relatively little publicity about staffing providers falling victim to hacking, it is only a matter of time.
The sensitive nature of data held by staffing agencies make them a prime target for hackers and deploying the right security measures is vital to avoid falling foul of a security breach. As many agencies are still making the transition from paper to data, cyber-security will rapidly become a priority for staffing agencies.
Wider use of technology for time and attendance
Temporary recruitment agencies manage time and attendance very differently from each other, with some companies reliant on technology to monitor attendance, whilst others use paper timesheets with a requirement for clients to physically sign documents.
Reducing the bottleneck of workers signing in and out of work sites is key priority for high volume employers and deploying technology to support the signing in and out process can save valuable time. Although in its infancy, facial recognition software has the potential to revolutionise onsite time and attendance. The Met Police highlighted this month that they will be trialling facial recognition software in Westminster with the aim of scanning faces to identify persons of interest. With facial recognition technology now advanced enough to use at scale, there could be utilisation for time and attendance, although whether this will be used in 2019 might be a stretch.
Shortage of labour for lower skilled job roles
Brexit has already had an impact on the immigration levels to the UK from Europe, which is expected to become more profound as we move closer to March 2019. Companies that had previously relied on European labour for manual and unskilled roles will see a significant shift in how they recruit talent.
Whilst migration from EU countries is falling, the UK has seen an increase of migration from non-EU countries, with 2018 expected to be the highest level since 2004.
Basic training to include upskilling of English and cultural support
As the UK shifts from having high levels of immigration from the EU to other parts of the world, language and cultural difference may start to play a more important role in the onboarding and training processes.
Generally, most EU countries share common underlying cultural values and beliefs, along with the English language featuring prominently in School curriculums. However, countries outside of the EU can have dramatically different cultures, and those coming to the UK to work from countries which have very different cultures will require wider training and support to help to understand the nuances of what is and isn’t expected in the UK working environment.