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Staffing & Recruitment Industry South of the Border

Last week I attended the Staffing Industry Analyst's conference that was held in San Diego. In addition to taking a break from the cold Canadian winter, it provided the opportunity to get a sense of the current state of the staffing market in the USA. This is important as the American market tends to lead the Canadian market in trends and innovation. It provides a glimpse into what may be coming for us in Canada. Before I share some of my observations, let me explain what the Staffing Industry Analysts organization is and does. The SIA describes themselves as: Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. Our proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labor. SIA's independent and objective analysis provides insights into the services and suppliers operating in the workforce solutions ecosystem, including staffing firms, managed service providers, recruitment process outsourcers, payrolling/compliance firms and talent acquisition technology specialists such as vendor management systems, online staffing platforms, crowdsourcing and online work services. This organization is really connected. Their research is significant and the huge sample-size ensures accuracy. Eagle is a member and we follow their publications religiously. Over many years, their outlook has consistently been proven correct. With this said, I'll share a sample of interesting things that I learned... some of which may confirm what you already know/believe while some others may surprise you as it did me:

  • There is a world-wide shift in employment from permanent employees to contract/temporary labour. This is both being driven by the people themselves as their preference and by employers recognizing the value of employing contingent workers.

  • Contingent workers grew from 12% of the working population in 2009 to 22% in 2016 with 44 million American workers now doing contingency work.

  • The adoption of MSP (Master Services Providers) has plateaued in the USA. Although this offering is still growing globally, it is no longer the case in the US market.

  • Moreover, I was surprised to find that there was a marked move from outsourced, off-shored service solutions, back to in-house-managed solutions; companies are repatriating their business and technical teams to manage their own projects and operations.

  • The staffing industry in the USA is also getting crowded with nontraditional service providers such as online staffing solutions, cloud-based solutions with AI (artificial intelligence) and Robotic solutions coming on strongly. This is resulting in a more complex and potentially confusing ecosystem.

  • Niche/specialized contingent labour providers are growing their market share at the expense of the generalists.

  • Globalization of staffing companies appears not to be growing as quickly as it had previously. Through technology, globalization is in the reach of most companies big or small, but "buy-local" political philosophies and increasingly complex legal structure, laws and regulations are curbing the ease of expanding to new markets.

Although this is a very short list of information from the conference, you can find many more reports and statistics at SIA's website: In summary, the staffing industry in the USA is very active and the outlook is quite positive. Technologies are coming out that will change the way recruitment agencies and the hiring companies source candidates and appears to be playing the role of disrupter for MSP's going forward. The overarching trend is for companies to bring their own projects back in-house after having tried off-shore or outsourced solutions.