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Neal Suchak is a Policy Advisor at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the professional body and voice for the UK recruitment industry. He leads on the REC’s Future of Jobs Campaign, and co-authored the Future of Jobs report.

There has never been a more important time to build the bridge between education and the fast changing world of work. There is a much-quoted OECD stat which says that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will end up working in new job types that don’t yet exist. This underlines the need for a radical rethink on how we can best support future generations of workers, entrepreneurs and organisational leaders. The UK’s £35.7 billion recruitment sector can play a leading role in pre-empting what seismic changes across all sectors will mean for individuals, as well as for employers and policy makers.

Jobs and hiring procedures are evolving at pace

The monthly REC/KPMG Report on Jobs data shows demand for staff increasing month-on-month with candidate availability decreasing. Thirty six per cent of employers say that skill and talent shortages will lead to the greatest change in their hiring procedures over the next five to seven years, and better workforce planning is a strategic priority for the vast majority of UK businesses. On the back of this, there is a real appetite amongst employers and recruiters to look ahead and to help create a future jobs market that works for all. That is why the REC established the Future of jobs commission; a coalition of leading employers, academics, think-tanks, recruiters and labour market experts, chaired by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The commission’s publication, The future of jobs report, articulated a clear vision for a future UK jobs market, with a specific focus on boosting engagement between employers and schools.

A future UK jobs market must be one where inclusion and objective hiring are the norm and where individuals feel confident that they can succeed through work, irrespective of their background. A genuine step-change on inclusion and social mobility will require more employers to review current hiring procedures and criteria. Driving this kind of re-evaluation lies at the heart of the REC ongoing Good Recruitment Campaign which provides a peer-to-peer good practice network, and feedback on how employers are changing the way that they hire staff. Using this intelligence to inform and prepare younger generations for their first forays into the world of work is just one example of how the recruitment sector can support the objectives of The Careers & Enterprise Company. The broader aims are to inspire, reassure, provide visibility of what jobs are out there, and to promote a genuine ‘growth mind-set’ to successfully navigate increasingly ‘non-linear’ career paths.

Representative bodies can drive business engagement

Recent engagement with organisations like The Careers & Enterprise Company and the Education & Employers Taskforce has reinforced our belief that recruitment professionals have an important role to play in helping individuals navigate the fast changing labour market. The question is how best to harness this contribution.

One of the key challenges when it comes to driving employer engagement is to create a ‘cut-through’ to local businesses, especially in an age of massive over-communication. One of the best channels is through regional and sectoral representatives bodies which is where many businesses will go to as primary source of information. The work that the REC is taking forward within the UK recruitment sector is being mirrored by many other sectoral organisations, and galvanising the engagement of representative bodies remains one of the best ways of driving sustained employer engagement with schools.

The REC’s approach has been to build a community of ‘Future of Jobs Ambassadors’ within our membership, and to use this to signpost opportunities to get involved in the activities of The Careers & Enterprise Company. Recruitment professionals are in daily contact with employers and job-seekers and uniquely placed to assist with a number of the Gatsby Benchmarks, particularly learning from career and labour market information, linking curriculum learning to careers and boosting encounters with employers.

REC members want to make a difference by providing a heads-up to the next generation, and many are already working with local schools and feeding into the activities of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The aim of our Future of Jobs Ambassador network is to drive further engagement and ensure that the UK’s £35.7 billion turnover recruitment industry is playing its part in building better bridges between education and the fast-changing world of work.