Recruitment industry used as easy scapegoat, yet again

Yet again we see the recruitment agency-bashing focus
of the mainstream media is alive and well in Australia.


Witness a recent a one-sided non-story in
Fairfax Media’s Canberra Times  entitled

Public sector employment freeze proves a jobs boon for private
. Writer

Noel Towell
decided that the new Abbott Government’s use of
recruitment agencies while ordering a hiring freeze was news worth


According to Towell: ‘Private
recruitment firms are reaping tens of millions of dollars from the
federal government’s public service cuts, supplying thousands of
temporary bureaucrats, despite the hiring freeze.


The public service’s
workplace authority admits it is powerless to stop the bonanza with the
rules of the freeze leaving departmental bosses free to dip into their
budgets and pay the private sector for contract labour to fill growing
gaps in the workforce.


An analysis of hundreds of
government contracts signed since the Abbott government came to office
show that recruitment companies have boosted the number of deals won to
supply temps to federal departments. Seventeen recruitment firms have
snared more than $25 million in contracts since September, mostly for
”temporary personnel services” but also to supply specialist workers
including computer programmers and for ”human resources” consultancy


Are you kidding me? This is a
‘bonanza’ for the recruitment industry?


In the 2010/11 financial year,
the Federal Government

an average of $71.2 million per month on the services of
ICT recruitment agencies. Using this figure as a benchmark consider the
context of a five month period   the $25 million in contracts
referred to in Towell’s article above (assuming this spend is all
contractors, not just ICT contractors). In other words, the recent
monthly average recruitment agency spend is $5 million, or 93 per
cent less   than the monthly agency spend by the Federal
Government of three years ago!


Further in Towell’s article, it
is revealed that a vast majority of the contracts (14 out of 17) for one
department (Geoscience Australia) were for extensions offered to
existing contractors. This is just slightly embarrassing for Towell as
it contradicts his main point about the supposed ‘bonanza’ for the
recruitment industry.


Where was the article about the
hundreds of millions of dollars that the Federal Government continues to
pay the big management consulting/professional services firms (eg PWC,
Deloitte, McKinsey, Accenture, etc) who make massively larger margins
(in both percentage and real dollar terms) on their staff than
recruitment agencies ever do?


Big consulting firms are a cosy
constituency of the conservative side of politics and recruitment
agencies are not regarded as being even close to the same league,
although we should be, given our importance in supporting a flexible
labour market.


The recruitment industry, yet
again, appears to be the easy target for a lazy journalist looking to
take a shot at an industry that’s done nothing more than provide staff
as requested   by its clients, the various Federal Government

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on 07/03/2014 at 5:34 pm


    Enjoy your blog

    These stories are usually feed to the media by those seeking to score a political point but as the article points out the recruitment vendor contracts pretty much contain the same recruitment companies as they have for many years.

    Not sure about the federal government but both the NSW and Victorian governments have had recruitment vendor contracts since the early 1990s.

    Many public servants gain their foot in the door thanks to a short term temp role.

    And finally and quite possibly the most important point, the state and federal government recruitment vendor contracts are considerably cheaper than the centrelink Job Service Australia system (JSA).

    Its interesting to note that when the government needs staff they use a vendor contracted agency yet sends the unemployed to JSA yet not one major recruitment firm with all the networks that an unemployed person needs access too actually has a JSA contract.

    Its worst for the disabled as the system they get referred too is even less successful than JSA. I was once talking to a good friend who was a public sector recruiter at a major recruitment agency and she had never heard of the system that the disabled are referred too.

    I'm pretty sure if the Government actually sat down with the recruitment industry and worked out an arrangement, the recruitment industry would achieve results far ahead of anything the current JSA will ever achieve.

    The problem is the media tend to not really look into an issue but rather goes for the easy story which is that the government is outsourcing jobs to the recruitment industry.


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