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World Employment Conference 2021 : Building a global community to steer a labour market in transformation

On 6-8 September, the World Employment Conference 2021 brought together more than 300 participants from all across the world to discuss the developments transforming labour markets and to reflect collectively on the solutions needed to steer this transformation in a sustainable direction. Being held for the first time as an online event, the conference yet managed to engage participants and create interactions with the different speakers and sponsors involved.

Published on 10th September 2021

Transformation is nothing new in labour markets but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many of the trends that we were already observing and the world of work is getting increasingly complex. It was about time to simplify that complexity! A prime objective of the World Employment Conferences is to have employment and recruitment experts and thought-leaders share their knowledge. With more than 70 speakers covering topics as diverse as blockchain, artificial intelligence, career guidance, hybrid workplaces, skilling or diversity and inclusion, the participants got a full overview of what they should know to thrive – rather than survive – in the changing world of work.

The sessions combined workshops with concrete case studies and exchange of best practices, panel discussions and inspiring keynotes. The opening keynote speaker, Peter Hinssen, serial entrepreneur and thought-leader on radical innovation, set the scene by explaining that we were entering the ‘never normal’ and proposed his own ‘VACINE’ model to adapt to it (Velocity, Agility, Creativity, Innovation, Network, Experimentation). Then, Kemi Nekvapil, an Australian executive and personal coach, made the audience reflect through powerful stories on what we need to build our personal and organisational capacity to recover. Finally, Philippe Silberzahn, professor and business consultant, uncovered the mental models that we all have and advised how we can use that approach to embrace uncertainty and emerge stronger out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Beyond the inspiration, the conference also brought practical solutions to participants thanks to the sponsors. Coffreo, Pixid, Arca24, LinkedIn, Littler and Capital GES presented the innovative products and services they can offer to the HR services industry not only to improve the efficiency of their business but also to make a positive impact. Coffreo shared insights from their research on the concerns and needs of agency workers. LinkedIn offered practical tips on how to leverage the platform to create impact with your executive voice. Pixid presented how a Total Talent approach to staffing can help suppliers and recruiters handle every aspect of mid-market recruitment projects. Arca 24 focused on Artificial Intelligence in the staffing business.

The conference also had a look at the policy response needed for businesses to be able to grow and bring their positive contribution to labour markets. A panel debate brought together Sanghon Lee, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Stefano Scarpetta, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Roberto Suárez Santos, International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and Sharan Burrows, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Another prime objective of World Employment Conferences is to build a community. And with more than 300 participants coming from 32 countries, the 2021 edition built a truly global one. Thanks to the interactive features offered by the online conferencing platform, the participants had multiple opportunities to interact, chatting and answering polls during sessions and joining online networking groups to continue the discussion after the sessions closed.

As Bettina Schaller, President of the World Employment Confederation, put it, the ultimate goal for building such a global community community of experts is to “co-create the solutions to enable better labour markets for the benefits of workers, businesses and society as a whole. The HR Services Industry is tremendously experienced in addressing the trends driving labour market transformations and it has stepped up as of the early days of the Covid-19 crisis last year. But we can’t do it alone. We need all stakeholders to come together and work out solutions.”

The World Employment Conference is the annual event on the recruitment and employment industry, gathering senior executives of national staffing federations and business leaders of workforce solutions firms. It is organized by the World Employment Confederation; for the 2021 edition in partnership with WEC’s Spanish federation ASEMPLEO. The World Employment Conference 2021 was hosted by Alison Comyn, an Irish television and print journalist, broadcaster, and news anchor as well as a host of past World Employment Conferences.

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