Why is the Recruitment Industry Rotten to the Core? PART 4: Damage to Clients & their Industries with Potential Fatal Consequences

Firstly I would like to say thank you to everyone who is following these editorials. Over the past few weeks I have received many emails of support from HR managers and composite/aviation professionals and I am overwhelmed with the brilliant response.

Oh and thank you to the several recruiters who bombarded me with hate mail.

This is the 4th instalment of my editorial series Why Is The Recruitment Industry Rotten To The Core? In this editorial I am going to discuss why choosing a recruitment partner who operates ethically is of paramount importance to you and your company.

I am going to highlight some of the disturbing lengths some recruiters and/or agencies will go to and the damage to clients and industries that can have fatal consequences.

So, what is a Brand?

In a nutshell, a Brand is how any company communicates to its customer base. It explains what a company stands for, what their values are and what you can expect when you deal with them.

Two quotes from Warren Buffet;

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

“In looking for people to hire or work with, I look for three qualities: intelligence energy and integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”

A recruitment partner should fully understand the market you operate in and the legislation that governs it. These aspects are crucial when it comes to recruitment - and while anyone can make a mistake, it becomes a cause for concern when a recruitment agency intentionally sets out on a course of action that they know to be unethical, unscrupulous and dangerous in order to win a contract or generate commission.

What happens when a recruiter gets it wrong?

I think you would agree this is not the best PR for an airline that carries over 7 million passengers.

As an experienced aircraft engineer, I have come face to face with agencies of this kind on more than one occasion and I often wonder how these agencies are still in business.

The advert was placed by an agency offering new fitters work on passenger planes after just five days training.

(airline pictures and names omitted.) 

The advert actually stated that previous knowledge or experience of aviation maintenance was not essential. Of course the advert was immediately pulled following the outrage it caused.

What is even more concerning is that the advert wasn’t the first of its kind but it was the first to be highlighted on social media. Similar ads have been placed numerous times over the past three years. 

But why?

The airline industry is fiercely competitive and they must remain lean in order to survive. All airlines must trim the fat, not the muscle.

In reducing expenses, airlines must determine not only how far to cut but also where to cut. A critical part of the process is identifying the set of essential capabilities that differentiates them from their rivals in the view of customers. In many cases, those capabilities may require renewed investment yet management needs to be ruthless in cutting costs in all other areas that are not relevant to safety, reputation, branding, or customer value.

In my opinion although not intentional, the cost cutting has started to creep into staffing costs and this will lead to implications on safety.  

Recruitment agencies are regularly used by airlines/MRO’s as a cost efficient way of providing skilled staff as and when they are required. Due to a lack of imagination recruiters do not focus on the quality of the candidates they supply but the price they can supply the candidates for. The only way they can think to differentiate from the competition is price. So in order to undercut other recruiters they find ways to cut corners with little regard to the reputation of the business and more importantly safety.

The impact over time as we see now is that wages for skilled aviation technicians/engineers are driven to a point where they leave the industry as their salaries in some cases have been effectively halved in 10 years.

This then creates by default a scenario as I discussed in a previous editorial from this series. (The Skills Shortage Myth).

Some recruitment agencies have effectively priced the aircraft technicians and engineers out of the market and the only way they can now satisfy clients needs at an artificially low price point is by using ‘semi-skilled’ or inexperienced people.

The typical aircraft engineer has studied over a period of 5 to 10 years (sometimes longer) to obtain a license that allows them to release aircraft into service. They have total responsibility for ensuring that an aircraft is airworthy and are liable by law should anything go wrong.

Let’s put this into perspective. Imagine you have the responsibility of 2 turnarounds (flights) of an Airbus 321. That is around 450 lives you are responsible for. Or let’s say you’re on a busy line station (airport) and you release 4 aircraft (not uncommon), the figure creeps up to 1000 lives. If we get into larger aircraft such as a Boeing 777 or an Airbus 380 you are looking at being responsible for 3500 passengers per a 12hour shift.

So would you fly on an aircraft if the mechanic who worked on it had a mere five days training?

My message is simple. Protect your brand at all costs and only work with ethical recruiters that have actual experience in the industry you want them to recruit for. They must have your company's best interests at heart. Quality and safety in aviation comes with a price but it also has a huge benefit - peace of mind.

In todays world of social media where the world is connected, one comment, tweet or picture can reach and be seen instantly by millions. It has never been more important for a brand to live it’s values, walk the talk, deliver what it promises and retain customer’s trust. Once that’s gone, so are you.

My opinion on the damage being caused to clients and their industries by unethical recruiters has been formed using cold hard facts and actual hands-on experience of working both as an engineer and a recruiter within these sectors.

This editorial discusses a complex topic and encompasses the subject matters of other articles. Please take into consideration that these other topics will also be discussed in depth in my upcoming editorials.What is your opinion?

I welcome opinions from both sides of the debate. What are your thoughts?

This article is the 4th instalment of my editorial series ‘Why is the Recruitment Industry Rotten to the Core?

Click here for Part 1: Why is the Recruitment Industry Rotten to the Core?

Click here for Part 2: The Skill Shortage Myth

Click here for Part 3: Unethical Tactics and Practices

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