Guy Bryant-Fenn doesn’t like to sit still. In the two decades he’s worked in HR, he’s moved from an IT search to PeopleScout’s APAC managing director, transplanting from London to Sydney along the way. This global recruitment experience has given him a future-focused point of view and humility – a value he says drives honesty, integrity, ambition and tenacity.
We spoke with Guy from PeopleScout’s Sydney headquarters about the biggest issues in the Australia and New Zealand talent market and how they are shaping the talent acquisition industry. In our open conversation, Guy shares how the lessons from innovation in APAC should influence leaders around the world.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Australia/New Zealand region in talent acquisition right now?
That’s a great question. There are numerous challenges facing Australia, New Zealand and the broader APAC market in talent acquisition at present. First off is the availability of talent. It really is a compressed market here. We’re seeing a lot of employment growth in the healthcare and social assistance market, construction, education and training and professional. As we look forward to 2023, we’re seeing projected growth of half a million jobs or more, and the challenge that lies within that is the availability of skilled labor to fulfill those roles.
What are some of the biggest trends that you’re seeing?
The biggest trends that I think we’re seeing are a reaction to the availability of talent. So, we’re seeing a high degree of recruitment solutions that are focusing on passive sourcing—not those active candidates in the market, but those left-handed astronauts out there that we need to tap on the shoulder and attract into our clients’ organizations. We’re seeing a keen focus on market insights to provide the information of where that skilled labor is, who they are working for and how we can best attract them. That is done by a symbiotic relationship between people and technology, which means using advanced AI technology and attraction strategies that are enabling the people components to drive that passive sourcing.
Another big focus is diversity and inclusion. Organizations obviously see the benefit of diversity within their companies, and they want to ensure that they have a workforce that is reflective of the national demographic. So, they’re trying to balance the lack of availability of talent within the market but also drive a more inclusive workforce.
The final piece for me is really a greater focus on attraction and assessment. Organizations are wanting to understand the perception of what they are saying to the market. How does their employer brand portray them as an organization? What are the values that they are speaking to within market, and how do those values really flow through to how and who and what they are assessing within the recruitment process?
It sounds like in dealing with these challenges and working with these trends, technology plays a significant role. So, can you tell me a little bit about the role that tech has in transforming the industry and tackling the biggest issues you’re seeing now?
Tech is increasing in importance across the industry. We’re seeing an emergence within the HR tech industry of technologies that sit across each element of the lifecycle. So, workforce planning tools, AI passive sourcing tools, various different assessment tools from personality profiles to realistic job previews, situational judgment – and they go all the way through to onboarding and employment. The trick for us as a provider is to ensure that we are utilizing the best of those tools that will enable the recruitment process but also drive automation and efficiencies that allow us to elevate our talent acquisition teams to act as more as a business partner or in an advisory capacity.
What are some lessons from Australia/New Zealand that leaders in other markets should be paying attention to and learning from?
I’ve lived and worked in Australia now for eight years, having come from the EMEA market, and what I continuously enjoy is the lateral thinking of talent acquisition leaders across Australia and New Zealand. We are not afraid to look at things through a different lens, take the best of the learnings from the Americas and EMEA and rightsize that for the Australia/New Zealand and broader APAC market.
We are also seeing a faster adoption and emergence of total workforce solutions, where providers have a view of both permanent and contingent labor across their enterprise. That’s partly because of lateral thinking, but that’s also because we are smaller in scale and can be more agile which allows for us to innovate quickly.
What are you most excited about for the future of talent acquisition?
We touched on it in pockets throughout this conversation—the advancement of technology is an exciting component. I firmly believe that there will always be a human element in what we do, but how can we continue to create that symbiotic relationship between people and technology and really evolve and advance our solutions?
An example of that for me is evolving the planning element of what we do from a data and insights perspective. Right now, organizations are working on their resource forecasts driven by a demand plan. Where we will see this evolving to is true workforce planning, future-backed workforce planning, where organizations will be able to predict the resources that they need – one, two, three years out. We will also see the emergence of that workforce planning component flowing across the whole recruitment lifecycle, and it will enable us as a business to ensure that we are driving those passive candidate pipelines.
We are setting ourselves up across both our attraction and assessment strategies to really enable our clients’ business objectives and ensure that we are executing talent at a strategic level and acting as a true business enabler for our clients’ organizations. What I’m most excited about is really the elevation of talent acquisition to that level, and it can’t happen quickly enough.