Whenever you hear ‘choice’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘cost savings’ or similar platitudes being uttered by a self-styled ‘recruitment industry disruptor’ you should immediately be sceptical with respect to such claims.
Your scepticism should rapidly elevate when, as is inevitable, the ‘disruptor’ asserts that they are not providing recruitment, placement or on-hire services, they are merely ‘connecting interested parties’.
Any person with a modicum of understanding as to how the recruitment industry and the labour market both operate knows that the ‘disruptor’ is the emperor who has no clothes. Almost always such claims are complete and unadulterated BS that fail to withstand any competent examination.
It looks like a duck. It waddles like a duck. It quacks like a duck. It’s a …….
However, the gullible politicians and regulators don’t appear capable of recognising a duck if it waddled up to them and bit them on the arse.
I am no longer astonished that the people and organisations responsible for both the labour market’s regulation and its policing appear to have little to no understanding as to realities of that market, and business models of its many stakeholders.
Last week an owner of one of these ‘disruptors’ embarrassingly (for him) attempted to convince the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety that the waddling quacking bird was not, in fact, a duck. Not only was it not a duck, it wasn’t even a bird; it was another type of critter altogether.
Mable founder and CEO Peter Scutt, (a man with a wealth of entrepreneurial ventures to his name but zero recruitment industry experience) gave evidence to the Royal Commission last Monday that his online recruitment platform merely facilitates engagement between care workers and third parties who want to engage them.
“Its predominant focus is connecting people with people,” Mr Scutt said.
“So the predominant person that wants to connect with workers are the individuals themselves, supported by families or a care manager.”
“Mable as a platform isn’t an on-demand or gig platform, it’s a platform that connects people and allows them to form ongoing relationships. So it’s not a piecemeal work.”
Mr Scutt said the model could overcome the challenges faced by home care providers of offering tailored services to people with diverse needs, preferences, abilities, interests and geographical locations.
Unlike many providers, Mable is able to provide flexible workers and work schedules, he said.
“They’re agreeing those schedules directly with their clients. When you put two people together, they’re actually much more flexible together in working out what works for both parties,” Mr Scutt told the commission.
Where to even start with this duck-denying evidence?
Even Hans Christian Andersen himself would be compelled to write a follow up to his famous tale inspired by Mr Scutt’s cognitive dissonance on display at the Royal Commission.
Scutt went on to defend his platform from allegations by the Senior Counsel Assisting, Peter Gray, that Mable was a “broker operating outside the regulatory framework … that takes the provision of Home Care Packages outside the aged care regulatory framework over which the Quality and Safety Commission has scrutiny”.
Scutt refuted Gray’s allegations and asserted that the model offered by Mable empowered consumers by handing them more choice and control.
“The actual benefits of our model are quite profound, I think, to consumers and workers,” he said.
The stark truth as to Mable’s effectiveness in justifying its tender-free $5.77 million contract to service the Department of Health’s surge workforce program has been completely and utterly exposed.
From the report into the Newmarch House COVID-19 outbreak where 71 residents were infected:
“During the outbreak period, Aspen Medical and Mable® provided less than 20% of the non-Anglicare care workforce with the remainder sourced from other agencies….” (page 18)
From a 19 August 2020 Operational update from the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre:
To stabilise and strengthen the Victorian aged care workforce during the pandemic, the Commonwealth have funded a surge workforce to assist aged care facility managers:
- 17,073 shifts filled by Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA/ANRA) staff
- 2,304 shifts filled by Healthcare Australia staff
- 833 shifts filled by 74 Mable contractors
- 413 roles filled by Aspen Medical staff including clinical first responder deployments.
The question as to whether Mable is cheaper than the alternatives is irrelevant as Mable can’t deliver like the Association of Nursing Recruitment Agencies (ANRA operates under the umbrella of the RCSA) clearly can.
ANRA members combined to fill nearly 21 times as many shifts as Mable was able to fill, despite not being contracted as the primary provider.
ANRA members delivered this outstanding result while operating within the certification and accreditation requirements of the aged care sector.
Both time and money, across many years, have been invested by ANRA members to become, and maintain their status as, registered providers.
Mable does not regard itself as being bound by these requirements and, given the Department of Health’s actions (or lack of them), neither does the government.
The outcome is clear to see: ignoring the recruitment industry is as dumb and self-defeating as believing the hyperbole of recruitment industry ‘disruptors’.