Are private recruiters benefiting from the public service freeze?

Are private recruiters benefiting from the public service freeze?

Stop the press. Shred the CV. We have a recruitment crisis on our hands.

But wait: if you want a job in the Canberra public service, hit up a recruiter. According to ludicrous reporting in the Canberra press lately, recruiters are apparently rolling in new jobs and revenues – mostly thanks to an influx of temporary and contract roles from Federal Government Agencies in the post-Abbott environment. Some would have you believe it’s a “bonanza!”

Really? Specific claims, published by the Canberra Times – state that private recruitment agencies are “reaping tens of millions of dollars” through supply of temporary staff to beef up public service numbers.

At the heart of the article – ‘Public sector employment freeze proves a jobs boon for private recruiters’ by Noel Towell, published on 18 February 2014 – are some very misleading statistics to support the broad sweeping statement that the fat cat recruiters have benefited from public service employment cuts.

An analysis of hundreds of government contracts signed since the Abbott government came to office show that recruitment companies have boosted the number of deals won to supply temps to federal departments. Seventeen recruitment firms have snared more than $25 million in contracts since September, mostly for ”temporary personnel services” but also to supply specialist workers including computer programmers and for ”human resources” consultancy services.

…Geoscience Australia, which only has about 740 permanent workers on its books, signed contracts worth $1.4 million with recruitment firms just last month and this month.

However, as expert recruiter Ross Clennett explains on his blog, the narrative that supported these numbers is subject to scrutiny.

In the 2010/11 financial year, the Federal Government spent an average of $71.2 million per month on the services of ICT recruitment agencies. Using this figure as a benchmark, consider the context of a five-month period the $25 million in contracts referred to in Towell’s article above (assuming this spend is all contractors, not just ICT contractors). In other words, the recent monthly average recruitment agency spend is $5 million, or 93 per cent less than the monthly agency spend by the Federal Government of three years ago!
Further in Towell’s article, it is revealed that a vast majority of the contracts (14 out of 17) for one department (Geoscience Australia) were for extensions offered to existing contractors. This is just slightly embarrassing for Towell as it contradicts his main point about the supposed ‘bonanza’ for the recruitment industry.

The cuts have affected all Canberrans across all sectors, including our business. HorizonOne like most Canberra-based consultancies are not strangers to changes in government, and with the 34th leadership change we will again see our city stabilise and some surety return to operations.

While our business has certainly seen a downturn in the recruitment market following the recruitment freeze, an upturn in advertised vacancies over the past two months points to brighter days on the horizon for Government, private enterprise and job seekers. We anticipate we have experienced the worst in a market that has ‘bottomed out’ and there will be a slow, slightly lumpy increase in job vacancies over the rest of 2014.

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Are private recruiters benefiting from the public service freeze?