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The Staffing Industry in 2006

As I head into the ACSESS conference in Vancouver I ponder the state of our industry. For some years now, as the internet has matured we have heard that "middle-men" are passé and that the role of the agency will be supplanted by technology.

Twenty-five or more years ago I heard many stories of what technology would do for society. We were told that we would see shorter work-weeks, a more productive society, more leisure time and other such predictions. Time has told a different story.

Well here we are, well into the 21st century and the staffing industry is alive and well. Not only that, I believe that we are poised to play a key role in economies around the world. The global economy is creating a burgeoning demand for all manner of services and goods, a shift in the world's power structure has seen new players emerge as huge consumers of all that can be bought.

The industrial nations are already struggling with their needs for qualified, available labour in addition to the added pressures of understanding their own talent management needs. The concept of a contingent workforce has become accepted not just by great business gurus such as Charles Handy, who talked about such phenomena probably 20 years ago, but also by business leaders.

As I talk to CIOs, CFOs and other CEOs there is a growing acceptance that maybe the rather simple idea that contractors are an expensive solution is neither accurate, nor relevant in today's economy. The true cost in business today is the time to market! If it take you longer to bring your offering to market then you lose revenues, lose market share and first mover advantage. The benefits of using a workforce capable of hitting the ground running, flexible enough to change shape and form throughout the product or project lifecycle without "employer/employee" issues is highly desirable.

Agencies are poised and able to provide clients with a "virtual workforce" capable of meeting staffing needs that could never be met with solely an "employee based" model. I am excited about our industries prospects and love the idea that staffing companies could become the darlings of the investment world! Gotta run ... have to go buy some stocks!