It was a pleasure to be involved in NESA’s recent Practitioners Conference with employment services providers coming together to prepare for the new era of Workforce Australia, writes our Founder and Director, Paul Diviny.

While the Albanese government has been somewhat critical of Workforce Australia, there is broad support and agreement that change is needed. Accordingly, we expect the government to tweak the scheme before it goes live on 4 July 2022 with Minister Burke recently announcing three changes to how the Points Based Activation System (PBAS) will operate.

Prospert’s strategic advice to providers is that the introduction of Workforce Australia provides a BIG opportunity for employer engagement. At the Practitioners Conference, Associate Professor Jo Ingold from Deakin University and I presented a workshop on this topic drawing on some interesting international case studies. Read our presentation.

One of those case studies is the ReAct Partnership in the UK – a new industry-led, active collaboration to support continuous improvement in employment programs through action research, shared and iterative learning and evidence-based resources. Research by the ReAct Partnership found that evaluations of employment programs often did not consider the views and experiences of employers. It also highlighted the complexities employers experienced when dealing with multiple employer engagement teams from different providers.

The Prime Provider Network in the UK aims to address this issue by sharing vacancies across providers and in different areas of the country. The Network undertook an employer mapping exercise, created tools to share vacancies and developed shared account management strategies.

This engagement model could disrupt traditional approaches to employer engagement in Australia. However, the sector requires a significant change of mindset to adopt a ‘needs-led’ rather than ‘product-led’ approach. It’s called ‘Co-opetition’ – collaboration amidst the competition.

With the introduction of Workforce Australia, now is the time to innovate, collaborate and transform the sector. In addition, like many countries, Australia is experiencing the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including low unemployment and increased job vacancies. This labour shortage means employers have a greater need for support to fill job vacancies. We don’t know how long this tight labour market will last, but we do know that a large and diverse employer caseload is critical for medium to long-term success.

At Prospert, we see many employment services providers focusing on instrumental engagement of employers – transactional relationships primarily focused on selling a candidate. Instead, we need to shift to relational engagement building deeper, repeated and systematic relationships. We also need increased collaboration among competitors to meet the expectations of large and medium-sized employers, removing complexity and streamlining services.

If you’d like to learn more about the BIG opportunity for employer engagement read the NESA Practitioners Conference presentation or contact me directly at paul@mariop106.sg-host.com.

And check out our core learning program ‘Effective Employer Engagement’ which has helped more than 10,000 employment consultants across Australia, New Zealand and the US build long-term partnerships with employers, community groups and schools. It’s now available on Prospert’s eLearning platform and can be complemented with tailored group or individual coaching. Find out more about Learn@Prospert.