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The Temporary Help Industry

The staffing industry is composed of numerous services, amongst them is the temporary help sector. Eagle's (my company) focus is contract labor, however we too have a contingent of temporary employees that we supply to meet the needs of our clients. As a member of ACSESS we work hard to ensure our industry is professional and ethical.

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about the value proposition offered by the staffing industry. A few days ago The Toronto Star ran a one sided and scathing article about the Temp Industry. Of course sensationalism is what sells newspapers, it is just unfortunate that the very positive contribution that this industry makes to its clients, to the people who rely on us for jobs and to the Canadian economy, is lost when this kind of "reporting" happens.

The article starts off like this ... "To understand the "temp" industry today is to hear the story of eight Somali women whose experience has left them without jobs, references and, in their estimation, much to fear." Wow I would have thought the tens of thousands of people that find work each year as temps might also be a way to "understand the temp industry". Maybe the contribution of the industry to the Canadian economy or to the success of our clients might also be a way to look at our industry!

The writer talks about the plight of the women, but never once talks about the fact that these women got jobs because of the staffing industry. That they received pay, they contributed to the CPP and EI systems and received Canadian work experience because a staffing company found them work. The fact that they are more employable today than they were before this work seems lost!

The writer talks about how they are devastated because they no longer have jobs! Well, forgive me, but it appears that there is never any personal responsibility anymore. In my world I am responsible for my success, for my career, for putting bread on my table and nobody gives me anything. I have no time for those who have an entitlement attitude ... those who expect parents, employers, Government or anyone but themselves, to make it all right.

I am proud of our industry. A contingent workforce allows companies the flexibility they need with their workforce to adapt to the rapidly changing world facing every business today. We compete on the global stage, and if companies can get the job done here, partly because of this flexibility, then surely that is better than the jobs going to some third world country. We also provide employment for tens of thousands of Canadians who appreciate the opportunity to get work experience, who appreciate the flexibility of a temp job, who appreciate the ability to try a new environment and who appreciate the opportunity to work their way into full time employment (if that is what they want).

The vast majority of companies in our industry are committed employers, doing a tough job and providing a valuable service. The insinuation that companies in our industry are getting rich with our "unrestricted fees" is ludicrous and would not bear any kind of scrutiny. We operate in a very low margin, highly competitive environment with the average pre-tax profits in the 2.5% to 5% range (Statistics Canada & Staffing Industry Analysts).

I have trouble believing that there are many "rogue operators" in our industry. Complaints to our industry association are always reviewed and we will involve any applicable authorities if there is reasonable cause.

There will always be issues in any walk of life ... if you go looking for them, but by all means if there are issues then let's fix them, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water! This is a great industry that is good for Canada, let's give it a bit of credit!