The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has launched an enterprise agency dedicated to supporting start-up businesses in the recruitment industry. But will it improve the levels of service that HR departments get when they buy recruitment services? Simon Kent investigates.
“Every decision taken during the inception and first months in the life of a new organisation is critical and has the potential to make or break,” said Denise Walker, executive director of RITE, “Whatever you level of experience, it is easy to feel isolated when you decide to go it alone.”
RITE, a not-for-profit organisation which stands alone from the REC, will address this need by providing access to specialist support, mentoring programmes and even by recommending support services such as banking, marketing and accountancy from vetted suppliers.
Clients also receive training and development for their own skills including attending a compulsory new business start-up course.
Walker, who sold her own recruitment business after 11 years at the helm in 2003, admitted that in her early days she couldn’t believe how much worry she experienced. “I just needed to know if it was normal to worry so much,” she said. “This is the kind of support I would have loved to have had at the time.”
But will newcomers to the industry be similarly enthusiastic? Gareth Osbourne, managing director of REC, acknowledged that there are a number of ‘cowboys’ operating at the lower end of the industry – as there no doubt are in every industry – and he said, “By making this investment at this level in the market, we can help drive up standards across the industry.
“It is essential to populate the recruitment industry with enthusiastic, energetic and corporate new businesses, owned or managed by professional, not just entrepreneurial people,” he said. “RITE is the vehicle that will make this happen.”
Put this way, RITE appears to be designed to deliver benefits to the industry as well as to the individuals using its service. Certainly the three-year REC Corporate membership included in the RITE package is intended to get new ventures committed to professional standards early on.
To attract clients, fees for the service have been staggered over three years to minimise the impact of the extra cost. Having started providing support in October 2004, RITE already has a number of clients reporting positive experiences from the initiative.
Moreover, with support coming from Nigel Griffiths MP, minister for Small Business and Enterprise, RITE could act as a blueprint for support agencies in other industry sectors.
“The establishment of RITE is an excellent example of how an entrepreneurial environment can be created to support those new to a particular industry,” he said.
Ultimately, RITE’s success will depend on its profile and positioning among new entrants to the recruitment industry. With Business Link increasing market penetration and customer satisfaction over the past two years, any offers of enterprise specific support must be seen to be unique and offer value for money.