A couple of great articles that I enjoyed this month. One was by James Kaan of Dragon's Den fame (he made his money in recruitment remember) and another was in a supplement produced by the CIPD called "Turning the Tide". They both started off with the same premise - the way most agencies behave means they will disappear in a relatively short space of time. I have to agree, and wouldn't the world be a better place?
They face extinction in two areas where they have been relatively successfully and ubiquitous over the past fifteen years - where they have provided non specialised skills and where they have just dumped CVs on unsuspecting companies and then chased for a fee. Ambulance chasing as we call it.
In other words, in places where agencies add little or no value to the process. Where they merely act as relatively unskilled but very insistent forwarders of candidate details. The drivers of this change, like so much in modern life, are regulation and the internet.
It will be the internet that changes low level recruitment activity and will force out of business agencies in this area. If you don't believe me, then see interviews with Travel Agents from 15 years ago. At that time we had three on our local High Street, including a branch of Thomas Cooks. Now only one survives, a niche player who specialises in corporate travel.
This has happened because once the internet had got over supplying all the things that you didn't want anyone else to know about - pornography and illegal music downloads - it matured into a really useful tool for travellers. I wouldn't think about using a travel agent now and, looking at the high street, nor would you.
And the new recruitment engines out there are revolutionising the way some industries recruit. They are sophisticated, effective and even cheaper than those agencies that place a candidate with one hand and take one away with the other. And in time even the motor industry will catch up with it and start to use these things properly.
Regulation is the interesting one, because most clients don't realise that we are governed by regulations every bit as strict as the FSA. Except until recently no one really enforced it. But this is changing - one call to the BERR (check their website for Employment Agencies) and you can report unfair or unprofessional treatment or behaviour. They will investigate and they have wide, sweeping powers.
I am told they have the same investigative powers as Customs and Excise. For example, they can look closely at agencies' systems and record keeping - not good enough and you cannot operate. They can ask for proof of how the candidate was briefed before their details were submitted - no proof and they can rule the introduction as not compliant and unenforceable.
They can close agencies down, place enforcement notices on them, ban directors and generally clean up the business. And the sooner the better as far as many of us are concerned.
The future is being shaped by the recession, by changing technology and habits and by proper enforcement. This means that experience, professionalism and some sort of integrity may once again play a role.
And I am all for that