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Effective and flexible resourcing models are crucial to future delivery of public services

Source: Public Sector Executive May/June 12

Tom Hadley, director of policy & professional services at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), discusses why it is more important than ever for the public sector to balance cost-control and quality of service when procuring for recruitment services.

The 2012 Budget affirmed the Treasury’s intentions to extend the current ‘age of austerity’ with further cuts to the public sector. As a result, it is no surprise that employers are approaching recruitment spend with some caution.

However, the reality is that there has never been a more important time to bring in new skills and find the right balance between cost control priorities and promoting good recruitment practice.

One of the key challenges is to ensure that procurement departments recognise the unique nature of recruitment services and do not apply the exact same principles and procedures as for the supply of stationery, for example. People are not commodities and each staff placement requires the same amount of work in terms of sourcing and vetting each candidate and ensuring they are well-matched to the role. There is no ‘bulk’ buying when it comes to recruiting a skilled workforce.

Local authorities (LAs) spend £1.1bn per year on agency staff, providing the public sector with a vital and flexible resource to meet peaks in demand. However, an Audit Commission report in December 2011 found that councils face a 26% cut in funding between 2011/12 and 2014/15 and predicted that workforce costs will be increasingly targeted as part of this.

There are already signs that these cuts are having an impact on the care sector. A recent report from consumer group Which? flags some worrying examples of poor patient care, largely linked to insufficient staff numbers.

One way of ensuring that frontline services do not deteriorate without increasing headcount is to make effective use of flexible staffing arrangements. This is an area where specialist recruitment agencies can play a key supporting role by ensuring that suitably skilled and properly vetted staff are placed into key frontline roles at short notice and on a 24/7 basis.

However, rather than being seen as a valuable resourcing tool, agency spend is often seen as one of the first areas to be cut.

The reality is that flexible staffing arrangements should be seen as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We need to look at the benefits that temporary and locum staff provide, rather than seeing it as a budget line that should be systematically eroded.

The ability to bring in specialist staff when there is a need – rather than increasing permanent headcount – is recognised as a key feature of cost-effective resourcing models in the private sector.

National framework agreements, such as MStar (Managed Service to Temporary Agency Resources), promise significant cost savings but it is crucial that these do not jeopardise the quality, safety and sustainability of supply and are commercially viable for SMEs in line with Government commitments in this area.

An interesting lesson can be drawn here from the London Olympics. Forward-thinking procurement procedures have been a key factor in the success of the project and evidence at a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group confirmed a focus on value and quality rather than on driving down costs. The same meeting underlined the importance of good recruitment, with Andy Hunt, chief executive of the Olympic Association, making the point that “getting the right people in place, as well as the right culture and values, has been crucial”.

These messages on procurement and effective recruitment will continue to resonate long after the Olympics Games come to a close.

These are times of seismic change for public sector employers. There will be an increasing focus on innovative ways of delivering services and on doing more for less. As part of this, flexible staffing arrangements, such as temporary and contract staff, can play a pivotal role and enable resources to be brought in when and where there is a need.

As the representative body for the UK recruitment industry, the REC is committed to working with public sector employers to promote sustainable models and drive good practice through the supply chain.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Anny   05/02/2018 at 12:37

Recruitment in organization is a continue process, nowadays there is a lot of gap between the required skill and getting skill. So flexibility in resources is necessary for both employee as well as organization.when I started taking flexible resourcing service of, I started experienced it.Your post helped me to know more about flexible resourcing models.Thanks

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