The future of the recruitment supply chain

Guest Blog by Pete Holliday, Managing Director of Sopra Steria Recruitment

While organisations have, for some time, relied on master vendor recruiters to source diverse and disparate skills, the ‘master – servant’ relationship which defined historic RPO structures is beginning to crumble.

Internal hiring managers are instead increasingly choosing to work with external organisations which are open and honest about their carefully selected wider recruitment supply chains – and which offer direct access to third party recruiters – in order to improve access to high-calibre talent, EVP messaging and time-to-hire.


According to PwC’s latest CEO Survey, finding and hiring employees with the key skills they need to succeed continues to keep business leaders awake at night, with 80% of CEOs admitting they’re ‘worried’ and 38% saying they are ‘extremely concerned’ about the availability of talent. This is despite the fact that over half (54%) of employers are planning to increase headcount in the next 12 months. Against this backdrop, it is no surprise that business leaders are reassessing how they access the skills and experience their companies need to succeed.
While, historically, Recruitment Process Outsourcing models may have focused on price, speed, and ‘bums on seats’, many providers fell short of fulfilling organisations’ long-term staffing needs – to the detriment of future growth and profitability. However, in today’s ‘age of the specialist’, the next generation of RPOs and MSPs don’t just have to be good at the basics: they must work as partners to provide a 360 degree service in terms of candidate engagement, brand advocacy and future workforce planning.

Rob McSherry, Sales Director at Brook Street – which is the UK’s longest established recruitment business and a partner to Sopra Steria Recruitment – is a true advocate of this new style of relationship.

“We regularly get asked to partner with other organisations, but the relationship that Brook Street has with Sopra Steria Recruitment is very special”


McSherry explains.


“It’s a world away from traditional master vendor relationships: Brook Street gets access to clients, we attend review meetings with clients – the relationship is completely transparent.”

With a heritage spanning over 70 years, Brook Street was the first ever recruitment agency in the UK. The brand now boasts 80 high street locations which between them registered over 40,000 candidates last year alone. The company partners with Sopra Steria Recruitment on a number of high-profile accounts across both the public and private sectors, supplying administration and clerical staff and also specialist finance professionals on a non-permanent basis.

Throughout his tenure at Brook Street, McSherry has witnessed the evolution of ‘temping’ as a career choice, which he says further adds to the need for strong supply chains if organisations are to source and secure the requisite talent.


“In fairly recent history, temporary workforces were seen as a way to plug gaps”


he points out.


“Now HR leaders realise the benefits of non-permanent workforces as part of a wider strategic plan and professionals are also choosing to work in this way. Candidates are building careers through temping, they upskill in each role, offering the opportunity to receive higher rates in subsequent assignments. Some may end up in perm roles while others continue to work as temporary worker.”

As McSherry explains, this ‘professionalisation’ of temporary workforces has put further pressure on recruitment supply chains to respond to the changing landscape and end outdated, transactional processes,


“To us, candidates are more than just a number or a commodity. Brook Street treats its jobseekers as individuals. We give temps the respect that they are due, and this culture of respect runs through the recruitment supply chain and ongoing relationship with Sopra Steria Recruitment.”

He continues,


“We have shared values: a client and candidate first approach to business, rapid speed of response and a commitment to getting it right first time for temporary workers.” He also points out how, by working seamlessly with Sopra Steria Recruitment, candidate experience is improved, “We always know who’s available to work, our temporary workers get paid on time and we can ensure that they can move from assignment to assignment with minimal break in service.”

However, while McSherry is keen to point out that the service that Brook Street and Sopra Steria Recruitment currently deliver is truly ‘unique’, he admits that wider change seems to be on the horizon,


“End clients are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the service they are receiving from recruitment businesses – and rightly so. A decade ago, when the neutral vendor model came in, firms had 100 plus recruiters on the books – and most didn’t have the skills to complete the assignment. Now, HR leaders and internal hiring managers are getting wise to it – they’re looking for openness and accountability in their suppliers.”

Looking forward, it seems that this closeness in collaboration only looks set to strengthen, with RPOs and their recruitment suppliers working together from the earliest stages to offer employers the reassurance they need in this competitive climate.


As McSherry highlights,


“By working directly with an RPO on joint bids, and having the direct access to clients once the contract is in place, recruiters can offer quality and continuity of service that employers demand and deserve.”


Author: Editorial Team

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