APSCo Australia Life Members reflect on staffing sector achievements

Authored By Developer

This article is reproduced with the permission of Shortlist.net.au

Many of ITCRA and APSCo Australia's biggest achievements over the past two decades have happened quietly behind the scenes, while having a big impact on the staffing sector, according to its four new life members.

With almost 50 years combined service to the association, Richard Fischer (ManpowerGroup), Damien Ross (Davidson Technology), Peter Acheson (Peoplebank) and Andy Cross (formerly Ambition and Experis, now in-house at WSP) were all recognised for their contribution to the success of ITCRA over its history, as well as for their individual contributions to driving ITCRA's key pillars: iSafe, IT Super, SkillsMatch and the Certification program.

Reflecting on their involvement with ITCRA/APSCo, each acknowledged the evolution of the organisation and the industry as a whole over the years.

"When I joined, I felt like I was very much the small fish if you like, and it was an association that was presented by big players," Cross says. "Over the years it has evolved into something that is much more representative of the industry as a collective."

Ross agrees, and says he joined the board to represent those smaller organisations. "I felt that ITCRA at the time needed further representation at committee and board level for small-to-medium technology firms."

For Fischer, joining the board gave him an opportunity to voice concerns about what the industry association was or wasn't doing. "[I was] being very animated and passionate about industry issues, and wanting to have a voice, and the feedback I got from people in my position now, was don't just tell us, you need to get involved."

Looking back on the most positive developments in the association and broader industry, the inductees each reflected on the pivotal role the organisation has played in educating, advocating for and professionalising the industry.

"I realised there was a real mix in the quality of people in the industry and a mix of services that were delivered," Cross says. "For me, being part of the association was about being involved with something that was trying to raise the professionalism of the industry."

Fischer agrees the benchmark of standards, reflecting global trends, has been a big win for the industry. "To have that level playing field of standards, that the association has provided, that has been recognised by the industry and also by large customers and hiring organisations, is adding great value."

Acheson also calls out the way the association has dealt with the "enormous turbulence and industry disruption" over the last decade. "During that period, the level of legal and regulatory compliance expected or required of our industry has increased dramatically. And on every occasion, the industry association had to have a response to how, as an industry, we were going to deal with those increased expectations."

It's the behind-the-scenes work he is most proud of. "Most members, I suspect, wouldn't have even realised ITCRA was actually dealing with the regulatory issue and responding appropriately."

Acheson is particularly pleased he was involved with lobbying the government to get the Independent Contractors Act passed. "That was a significant achievement, for the ITCRA board back in 2006," he says.

And as the longest-serving board director, Ross is personally proud of how the industry has met all the challenges faced during his tenure. "I've been involved with some of the industry heavyweights in those boardroom conversations – Leon Lau, Richard Earl, Peter Acheson, Richard Fischer and so on," he says. "The industry's always under pressure from different external factors, so it's just being able to be at the forefront of those and assisting where we can."

ITCRA's merger with APSCo in 2016 was another crowning achievement.

"We had that realisation that we needed to broaden our representation. So rather than just being specifically technology, but to be able to also support and service professional staffing firms," says Ross.

It was also time to take on a more global view.

"When we were ITCRA, which was an Australia-only industry association, we were very aware that the industry was moving globally and we needed to understand global trends," Fischer says. "But also, our Australia-based membership wanted to expand their businesses throughout Asia."

For now, the newest life members encourage others to join them, and get involved in the issues affecting the broader industry.

"There's never been more opportunities in our industry than there are now, but there's never been more challenges," Fischer says. "There's never been a more important time for the next generation of people on regional committees, which is where I started, and board directors."

"Despite lots of disruptive elements to traditional business models, we're an industry that's found our way to continue to be important in the value chain of human resources. And that's been through a lot of drive and perseverance and lifting professionalism of our people. There'll always continue to be technology disrupters that exist and, as an industry, our ability to work alongside and harness those puts us in good stead for the future," Ross says.