After the Executive Forum: What Lies Ahead

stk128219rkeStaffing Industry Analysts’ 2017 Executive Forum held last week was attended by more than 1,200 attendees. The mood was buoyant: Sunny participants enjoyed the warmth of San Diego, optimistic about the business climate after the November elections. Here’s a look at some elements.

Growing Market. We project the US staffing market to grow 4% this year to reach a record $145 billion in revenue.  “2017 is likely to be a year of change and transition for the industry,” said SIA President Barry Asin. “There’s never been greater opportunity, but staffing executives face a more complex world than ever before as we saw during the Executive Forum.”

Customers. Gone are the days when you had to explain what contingent means. Enterprises are relying on a flexible workforce to get things done. Note that the temp penetration rate is at a record high — 2.05%. And buyers of staffing services are planning to use more and more contingents, including contractors, to get their job done.

Further, buyers surveyed by SIA expect 29% of their workforce to be contingent in 2026. Compare this to 22% in 2016 and 12% in 2009.

Vibrant Marketplace. Many new entrants to the market with varied business models reveal the evolution of the workforce solutions ecosystem. (We called it first.) Human cloud revenue, however, is experiencing explosive growth while many companies are still testing new models in various markets, occupations, geographies and industries. It does seem, however, that the most successful B2B human cloud companies are those that combine the parts of staffing with a powerful technology delivery/fulfillment system. And some of the best of examples of that were those that presented at Executive Forum.

“I think the biggest takeaway is that the Human Cloud isn’t just taxi drivers and masseuses anymore,” said David Francis, a senior research analyst with SIA. “Companies are bringing a new technology-first approach to engaging and deploying talent from across the skill spectrum, and it’s exciting to see how these approaches are challenging the traditional means of engagement. I think these companies are a glimpse into the future of how talent agencies will look and feel.”

IT Spurt. Insiders are optimistic that IT growth will reaccelerate in 2017 after a mild slackening in demand as easing uncertainty drives improved business spending. “Even with the temporary penetration rate at a historically high level, executives foresee the potential for further secular adoption of temporary staffing relative to other work arrangements in IT, such as outsourcing or direct engagement of independent contractors,” said Andrew Braswell, SIA senior research analyst.

And as for proposed restrictions to the H-1B visa program? It’s going to exacerbate recruiting challenges. But here’s the good news. There is a prevailing belief that such measures would be positive for IT staffing firms relative to the offshore providers and systems integrators that make far greater use of the H-1B program, often to bring in talent at below-market wages.

Looking Up. Industrial staffing leaders expressed optimism for the coming year, due to a more “pro-business” federal government administration that would facilitate stronger GDP growth in 2017. “Expected growth in demand for industrial staffing in the warehousing and hospitality verticals, as well as for RPO has been promising,” said Timothy Landhuis, a research manager with SIA.

On the topic of growth, we are proud to have expanded our “who’s who” within the staffing world to include the top 25 staffing professionals in Latin America. We are excited to expand coverage for many reasons. A critical reason: your customers want to spread their contingent workforces in South America in the next few years. We want to boost your businesses and give you opportunities to grow.

Next year, the Forum will be in Miami.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Subadhra Sriram

Subadhra Sriram
Subadhra Sriram is Staffing Industry Analysts' editor and publisher, media products. She can be reached at SSriram (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Subadhra Sriram
Subadhra Sriram is Staffing Industry Analysts' editor and publisher, media products. She can be reached at SSriram (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

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