Since the government ended licensing in the sector in 1994, there has always been a gap that needs to be filled.
A number of trade association organisations provide codes that attempt to standardise the industry, but they can only do so much. As John Randall, Engagement Director at Standards in Recruitment (SiR) says: “Their codes are limited to the membership they represent.
“With the proliferation of recruitment pathways and growing talent shortages in some sectors, there has never been a greater need for an independent industry standard to benchmark and ensure good quality practice.”
“The government has made it clear it has ruled out any return to licensing for the sector. So it’s up to the recruitment industry itself to respond to the concerns of organisations and pressured sectors, and protect and enhance its reputation.
“There are some 19,000 recruitment businesses in the UK and it’s a sector enjoying phenomenal growth. Compliance and quality are now the mantra, and it’s a given that the practice of recruitment introduction and supply needs good self-governance.”
Consultancies that abide by this mantra will only stand to benefit in the long run.
“Recruitment is about making a profit but quality and ethics of service will mean longevity and inspire loyalty from candidates and clients,” says Steven Watson, Compliance Manager at Campion Willcocks, who have successfully completed its first year anniversary audit with SiR.
He continues: “Having the industry regulated means a framework of measures in place to monitor and ‘police’ companies’ operations. Businesses that show contempt for the rules, which are there for a reason, should be penalised and in the extreme prevented from doing business. Having regulation can only help in clients’ and candidates’ confidence when working with companies that are there to provide a quality service. Having the industry regulated can, therefore, help customers ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’. Regulation recognises that recruitment is an industry run by professionals in their field.”
He adds that pragmatism is also needed: “Setting an unrealistic set of rules and over complex regulation could bring everyday business to a grinding halt. In most cases it is a fast paced culture of work with many clients demanding more and more, for less, yet still requiring quality. The principles of regulation should be easily quantifiable and have that balance between hard and fast rules and the flexibility to enable operation in the ‘real world’.”
Randall concludes that: “I believe that many in the recruitment industry support the principle of an independent standard and whether or not accreditation is seen as important, every managing director and investor wants their recruitment business to be successful, and will be aware that compliance is relevant. The ultimate goal, full compliance, may seem to be out of reach or be unnecessary or be just regarded as an administrative burden. However, the most successful companies have always recognised the role that compliance plays across the board.”
This article first appeared in Recruitment Grapevine on 18th April 2016