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Co-Creating the Future of Work

Shortly, a gathering of imaginative, informed, driven and diverse people will meet over two days to consider the forces defining the future – and how they can be combined for good.

As key drivers of wellbeing, pathways to meaningful work feature high on the forum agenda. As Australia’s largest national social enterprise recruitment agency, IPA are relishing the opportunity to exchange ideas and elevate the role of recruitment as a mechanism for job creation and workforce participation. The recruitment industry may be missing a seat at the Jobs and Skills Summit, however, as a relatively ‘unusual suspect’ at the Social Enterprise World Forum, IPA are poised to represent a model of recruitment that changes lives.  

It’s time for abundance thinking, not least because Australian employers are reporting difficulties filling vacancies at record highs (75%), yet distinct groups, such as young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, continue to miss out on employment opportunities. At first glance, recruitment agencies lamenting a shortage of candidates at a time of historically low unemployment rates in Australia, appears self-serving, if not self-evident. After all, the $29 billion industry’s business model depends on sourcing and placing candidates for employers lacking the time or resources to fill roles and rosters efficiently. Similarly, recruitment industry data showing unprecedented time taken to fill skilled roles, if they are filled at all, hints at a lack of agility and innovation around a global pandemic and policy response that has ruptured the labour supply chain. So what more can IPA do? This demands approaches that apply the power of supply and demand to tap resources in a way that also create opportunity and tackle disadvantage. It’s an approach at the core of social enterprise and innovation that cuts across sectors and activates a system greater than the sum of its parts. 

Under the banner of ‘co-creating the future’, the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) program frames the structural faults across skills, labour supply, working conditions and productivity that combine to warrant the Jobs and Skills Summit. SEWF sessions focusing on climate solutions and emerging technology echo the Summit’s challenge of how to maximise opportunities from renewable energy, tackling climate change and the digital economy at the community level. Similarly, insights from work-integrated social enterprises (WISEs), such as those engaging refugee and migrant cohorts, reflect the tenacity, creativity and community spirit already tapping hidden pools of talent. They also reflect the sectors and work visa arrangements IPA are tracking most closely as we navigate the skills shortage. This is salient given those on work visas constitute at least 13 per cent of our active talent pool and migrants tend to rely more heavily on personal and recruitment networks for employment.

IPA combine a mission of ‘recruitment that changes lives’ with a recognition that we cannot reach this alone. We look to our partners for opportunities to activate our mission just as they rely on IPA’s commercial acumen to amplify theirs. Our exclusive partnership with the National Disability Insurance Agency in the Winter Relief Workforce was struck after a leader in disability support services identified how IPA’s recruitment infrastructure and capability could help address critical local workforce shortages. The results have far exceeded expectations, not least IPA’s.

The point, however, is not to cherry-pick success, but rather to showcase the value of tapping resources from unexpected quarters. Of course, as an Australian-owned national recruitment agency, IPA believe our expertise in connecting people to jobs is crucial in any labour market and would offer value to any policy discussion on jobs and skills. Yet as a social enterprise, we recognise we are only one actor in that complex system. As an exercise in co-creation, the Winter Relief Workforce exemplifies the collaborative ‘can do’ spirit we aim to bring to our participation at SEWF and beyond. 

The SEWF Conference 2022 will be held in Brisbane on 28 and 29 September, as part of a dedicated virtual and in-person program representing the world’s largest gathering of purpose-driven Australian and international changemakers. 

Alison Carter 

Social Impact Manager | | LinkedIn

We’re the only national recruitment agency committing profits to community services.