CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

People power takes on new dimensions

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

Staffing week for Canada, the week when the staffing industry recognizes and celebrates it successes, is already under way -- and they have a lot to celebrate.

"The truth is that we employ more people than any other company in Canada, but because our industry is all broken up, we're not recognized as such a large industry," says Marcy Cowan, treasurer of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS).

"Our industry touches every level of employment, every sector -- it's not just about general administrators anymore. It's a huge industry," Cowan says.

ACSESS ( represents about 1,000 firms in the employment, recruitment and staffing services industry in Canada. It works to promote best practices within the industry, and also represents the industry at the government level by providing input on employment legislation and regulations.

Staffing for Canada Week launched on Sunday and culminates this Saturday in Toronto with Zoo Day, wherein staffing service employees and their friends and families can take advantage of reduced entry fees to the Toronto Zoo, and enjoy games, raffles, giveaways and other activities.

$5.19 billion in revenues

"We're trying to recognize everyone in our industry, and to say that we exist because of all these people," Cowan says.

Indeed, a 2001 survey of the employment services industry shows that that statement has never been more true. It found that the industry reported operating revenues of $5.19 billion in 2001, with temporary staffing services generating 80 per cent of the revenue, and the rest coming from placement services.

About 464,000 workers used the services of temporary staffing agencies in 2001, generating 221 million billable hours. The largest user of the industry's services was the business sector, which generated about 87 per cent of that year's operating revenues.

Impressive numbers, and ones that are only increasing as the industry continues to evolve and become a lucrative option for more and more job seekers.

"The face of work has and is changing. Through staffing firms, there is real opportunity for rewarding work with solid reputable organizations," says Shannon Jackson, national recruitment manager of Manpower, a worldwide provider of staffing services for 400,000 customers that employs more than two million people per year.

Jackson says that a lot has changed from when the industry first emerged in 1948. Employees are now better compensated for their work, and in many cases, will receive benefits.
The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS) represents about 1,000 companies in the employment, recruitment and staffing services industry in Canada. They suggest that staffing firms can recognize their employees in the following ways:
  • Send thank-you cards to recruiters, consultants, field staff and clients.
  • Send flowers or candy to recruiters, consultants and clients.
  • Provide educational opportunities to high-performing recruiters and consultants.
  • Provide educational opportunities to top temporaries.
  • Hold office potlucks and fun events.
  • Give away prizes to shows, sports, dinners and so on.
  • Issue pay stub inserts recognizing staff.

  • "Many of these organizations are offering employee benefits. At Manpower, we offer a comprehensive benefit plan to temporary employees that includes health, dental, life insurance, hospitalization and more," Jackson says.

    But more than that, staffing firms act as agents that give you access to a broad range of reputable companies, and help to match you up with ones that best suit your needs and abilities.

    "Registering with us is a foot in the door. It gives them access to better opportunities than what they might find on their own," she says. "If someone is making a career transition, is out of the workforce or is entering it for it first time, we have skills assessment tools to see what they can accomplish on the job. We can validate their skills and place them appropriately."

    As well, for many, temporary work is advantageous because it allows them to supplement their income while they pursue independent ventures.

    The evolution of the industry over the last decade to include placement services for full-time contract positions has also contributed to the growth of the industry.

    Meanwhile, more and more businesses have been taking on temporary workers to meet their changing personnel needs, and the changing nature of their workloads.

    Jackson says the increase in demand from both sides of the equation raises the bar, so that employers benefit from a more talented pool of workers, and those who use staffing services have greater freedom and better choices.

    "A lot of the growth has been spurred by organizations recognizing the importance of the talent we represent, and becoming responsible employers in terms of competitive wages, training and benefits," she says.

    "I believe that the more we do for our temporary employees, the higher the calibre of talent we can attract and retain. The better the talent, the better the positions that become available."

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