Recognise industry’s value to succeed

As Kevin Green prepares to step down as chief executive of the REC, he reflects on the past ten years, considers what’s next for the industry and shares his thoughts on the organisation

Kevin Green joined the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the UK recruitment industry, as chief executive in 2008. The REC represents over 3,000 recruitment companies, and has around 10,500 individual members of its Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP). By value, it represents some 82 per cent of the market, and has been representing the industry for around 80 years. The REC has existed in its current form since 2000, following a merger between the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Service (FRES) and the Institute of Employment Consultants (IEC).

Green had previously been HR director for the Royal Mail Letters, and was headhunted for the REC role. He admits that, despite working in and around the labour market for 30 years, he’d not heard of the organisation, but after conducting some research, realised it was somewhere he felt he could truly help and get involved. He reveals, “I’d run my own business prior to the Royal Mail, so I quite liked the idea of running an organisation again. It’s also a business you can get your arms around and get everyone in a room to have a conversation.”

In addition to this, Green had thoughts on the recruitment industry, and was (and still remains) passionate about supporting the industry to continue to improve and raise standards. Reflecting on how the industry has changed, Green shares, “I think the industry’s grown up a lot in the past ten years; I believe it has matured and got more professional. I think it sees itself focusing on providing value to candidates and clients more than it did when I first arrived, so it’s getting better day by day.” Despite continued improvements, Green still believes the industry has further to go, and explains that in a time of skills, labour and talent shortages, the recruitment industry needs to recognise the value it can bring to businesses and the economy.

Continued support for recruiters

The recruitment industry isn’t the only thing that’s seen changes and improvements during the past ten years, the REC has also updated its processes and offering to members. The trade body has implemented a compliance test for members to complete every two years. Non-compliance will lead to members being removed from the REC, and Green emphasises, “The REC badge has got to mean something.” The REC has also created qualifications at four different levels for recruiters (Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5), which cover everything for staff at all levels, from a resourcer to the director or leader of an organisation.

Looking forward, Green says these changes and updates will continue, and the REC will also remain focused on the need to promote good practice to clients and candidates of the recruitment industry. This includes the organisation’s Good Recruitment Campaign, where companies (including half of the UK's largest employers) sign up to a charter of best practice in recruitment.

There are always challenges on the horizon for the recruitment industry, and Green reveals his thoughts on the greatest challenges to come for the sector. He shares, “The economy is going to grow at a slower rate than it did in 2017, and we know there’s a direct correlation between GDP growth and the recruitment industry.” In addition, he sees Brexit as an upcoming challenge, which has already led to the UK becoming the joint slowest growing economy in the G7 (where before the referendum it was the fastest growing). Government legislation, too, remains an issue. Green emphasises that this doesn’t stop recruiters doing their job, it just adds, “cost and complexity to the running of their operation.” The recruitment industry instead remains agile and responsive, adapting to the challenges posed by government legislation.

Despite this, Green remains optimistic about the future of the industry, as he explains, “None of these challenges are insurmountable. None of them will cause the industry to go backwards, but I think that it will mean that the businesses that will outperform the market are the ones that have thought this stuff through and have a clear plan about what they’re doing.”

This industry is fantastic at giving people opportunities and we need to talk that up; we need to sell it more effectively. We need to hire bright young people, we need to train them properly, and we need to sell the benefits of working in a recruitment business.

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