Proving that, yet again, when it comes to a government decision between its mates and playing fair with the rest of the market you can always put your money on the mates winning out.
Last week I wrote about the LNP Federal Government looking after its monied mates at the top end of town who own recruitment platform Mable. This week we have the Victorian Labor Government favouring SEEK subsidiary Sidekicker over the rest of the recruitment industry when it comes to the State Government’s Working for Victoria (WFV) billion dollar-plus cash splash.
As the WFV home page proudly boasts
The Victorian Government boasts that it will invest $2.7 billion dollars in projects that will deliver an immediate boost to local employment.
There’s a slight catch though, as the WFV home page makes plain enough.
Jobs have to registered through Sidekicker and employees must be sourced through Sidekicker.
The Victorian Government made the announcement about WFV without any consultation with the recruitment industry. It seems that a discussion with SEEK co-founder Andrew Bassat was all that was required for Premier Andrews to gift Mr Bassat’s company a government-sanctioned monopoly without due process and without any apparent consideration of the available alternatives.
Sidekicker is a labour hire provider that is no different, at its core, to any other labour hire provider. The only difference is the delivery mechanism: a user of Sidekicker’s services utilises a tech platform while a user of a recruitment agency’s service engages directly with professional recruiters.
When I contacted the RCSA for comment, Brooke Lord, Head of Advocacy and Policy, was diplomatic about the communication that has transpired between the RCSA and the Premier’s office after the 8 April announcement of the WFV program.
“Look, RCSA was quick to raise a number of serious concerns with the Government’s approach and with the arrangement, especially because we had been actively and repeatedly trying to engage with them since the announcement was made.
“We received little response, beyond acknowledgement that the email had been received, and were eventually invited to a meeting to simply be told that the Government had made its arrangements in full and had appointed a single provider solution, without any engagement,”
“What made the initial meeting more confusing was the Department’s insistence that the provider they had appointed was not a labour hire provider. I think once it was clearly established that they had, in fact, appointed a single labour provider to run the platform, we were able to agree to a weekly meeting to address some significant design issues.
“I am hopeful that we will be able to overcome the issues that we originally flagged, but the process most certainly has not been as flexible or responsive as what we have seen at the Federal level.”
Even if there was the, somewhat, legitimate excuse of needing to act quickly the Victorian Government only needed to contact the RCSA head office, located a mere 1.8 kilometres away from the Premier’s office.
In doing so, the great depth and breadth of knowledge available via RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron and his very capable team would have made the Premier’s job easier and in alignment with the very principles the government was using the justify the whole multi-billion dollar program.
The Victorian Government has embarrassed itself with this decision. The WFV home page proudly trumpets that “This policy ensures that local small and medium size enterprises get a full and fair opportunity to compete for large and small government contracts.”
The fact that the core delivery mechanism for employment, a job placement service, on each project eligible for government funding was not made available to all potential providers is infuriating for every agency that would have liked the opportunity to demonstrate its credentials to provide such a service.
The very first WFV contract to be minted was one that completely lacked the “full and fair opportunity” the Victorian Government so proudly touted as being available via the WFV program.
Premier Andrews, I hope you understand why the recruitment industry might think you’re full of BS.