Switch to neutral vendor model could help overcome staff shortages in airports

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It is very sad to hear about the ongoing news regarding staff shortages in airports, especially as so many people are still longing for overseas travel only to be met by chaos even before they have left the country. And, according to the MailOnline, when they arrive at their destination the nightmare continues with hospitality venues across Europe having to close due to a lack of workers.

This real and ongoing recruitment headache that airport authorities are facing isn’t siloed within this industry. Daily we read about the NHS and care home staff shortages and, of course, the hospitality industry here in the UK facing huge problems.

It’s obvious that staff demand in travel is outstripping supply in many areas with security, check-in assistants, customer liaison personnel and facilities assistants needed to fulfil new contracts and maintain the smooth running of these passenger terminals.

Obviously, I am sympathetic to the recruitment officer’s predicament – they are working tirelessly to control this situation at a time when the recruitment market has become increasingly restricted. Over a million EU-born workers have already left the UK. Other issues including IR35, foreign workers rules, modern slavery, controlling costs, new Covid outbreaks and the need to demonstrate social value are making the task of recruitment even more complex.

It’s obvious from this and other recent recruitment nightmare stories that businesses now need to ask – are we planning ahead enough? Does our current staff provider have the most up to date technology to cope with my requirements? Are we using the correct model to help us to overcome these challenges? Or do we need a different, more innovative approach that breaks away from the way the recruitment industry has operated in the past?

My belief is that a neutral vendor model is now vital, with an expansion of the preferred supplier list (PSL) essential. We realize that PSLs are currently the most common and best-understood option for temporary recruitment but the main problems with the PSLs is that they can be time-consuming, costly and difficult to manage with the added hassle of only having restricted access to temporary skills needed to cover new projects. Hiring managers usually fill gaps their PSLs can’t fulfil by going off-contract, whether they have approval or not.

As I said, the best option for solving today’s recruitment challenges is to adopt a neutral vendor managed service provider. This approach gives access to a wider pool of agencies and temporary skills without having to go off-contract. It also solves compliance headaches, because neutral vendors provide proactive and transparent checks that most agencies don’t provide.

Obviously, one is not to know how exactly airport recruitment officers operate, and with what technology, but either way there is no doubt in my mind that a neutral vendor solution would give them greater access to a diverse supply chain of suppliers that delivers against social value requirements with guaranteed compliance checks before candidates start a project, which in turn, should help with the candidate vetting process, which in the airport’s case can take up to six months!

What is also plainly obvious is the crucial need for management information for predicting trends and recruitment needs, which would surely alleviate the pressure on airport management running up to busy traffic periods. By adopting a neutral vendor approach, employers would have access to a much larger pre-approved supply chain of recruitment agencies that would give them a complete overview of the market. Many of these agencies are SME local suppliers that meet social value requirements.

Ultimately, with this model you get much greater insight into the resourcing picture – so you can recruit temporary agency workers for the right cost, with guaranteed compliance, and with full visibility of the agency worker population.

For once I am happy to say that this Jubilee holiday I will be staying home. Only when the travel industry adopts these new technologies to ease up the staffing problems will I be packing my bags again.

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About Author

Mark joined Matrix SCM in the summer of 2021 with a brief to lead the company on its next phase of investment and growth. Mark has previously led and scaled businesses in the media and marketing industry and brings a wealth of operational and commercial experience. Mark also spent much of his career as a management consultant where as a partner at Accenture he led the creation of their digital transformation practice. Mark is passionate about people and believes that happy people make happy customers which ultimately makes for happy numbers.

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