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Aaaaand we’re back to this old chestnut. I saw an article this week featuring those good folk from Accordant in the NBR. As no one pays for the NBR anymore except dinosaurs like Jon Rice, I thought I’d share. The synopsis reads as follows:

  • Accordant says its revenue from public sector contracting and permanent placements has fallen 15% year-on-year after the Coalition Government asked public sector agencies to cut back.
  • (Group) revenue was down 9% year to date and that net profit was expected to be “materially lower” than the $2 million reported in the previous year.
  • JacksonStone & Partners has already started feeling some impact of these intended cost cuts, with revenues from public sector contracting and permanent placements down 15% against prior year to date.
  • Madison business had experienced the same decline in government contracting, which combined with a more widespread slowdown in temporary and permanent entry-level and support roles had led to a 20% drop in revenue
  • Revenue at its IT recruitment firm Absolute IT was down 15%.

(Source: NBR)

Two things: As much as Accordant may be beating themselves up over this result, because, have to when you have a load of non-recruitment shareholders, I’d guess that these results are better than most. The firms I work with who are heavily imbedded in the government space seem to be way more than 15% down on the year before. And even IT recruitment firms who don’t do much with government are mostly experiencing more than the 15% drop that Absolute are reporting. So chin up. And that brings me on to point number two; given how figures can be massaged by clever accountants for the benefit of shareholder confidence, are these figures truly accurate? Had someone told me that Accordant were 30%, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Many firms are seeing this and then some.

This demonstrates just how cursed last year’s AoG tender really was. I say “last year” when it of course straddled two years, which of course, wasn’t in the initial plan laid out by the pisstrumpets at MBIE. From start to finish (finish??! If only), the whole process has spelt nothing but time, money, confusion, and ultimately disappointment for the recruitment industry. Firstly, we had the debacle of some bright spark in procurement trying to re-invent how contractor recruitment was funded. We then had delay, sh*tty letters from the RCSA, and the eventful capitulation to start again and go back to the old way. Meanwhile, firms spent thousands of dollars on PR firms and bid writers, not to mention the man hours spent learning how to say what river you were born near in te reo, all in the hope of a pot of gold at the end of a puke-coloured rainbow. And then, out of all the firms who applied, some got on, and some didn’t, but….ta-da! Everyone actually lost.

When some left-field choices got selected, almost every one of them called me with the excitement of a dog with two dicks. These firms, these sweet summer children, excitedly briefed me on an “All of Government Recruiter”. What was going to happen apparently, was their phone was to ring off the hook with government vacancies to be filled. Some hired people, some are still looking, but one thing is for sure; there were no phones a’ringing. With government agencies told not to spend any money, the last thing anyone wanted was new suppliers.

As for those with a long history on the panel, the anxiety caused by a 6 month selection process was enough to send many to the GP with chest pains and numb left arms. When their selection was announced it was met with relief and not joy. And then came the crushing realisation that this was an election year, and that the Three Horseman of the Māori-hating, abortion-denying, funding-slashing apocalypse were riding into Wellington. All that time, money, and stress was met by a government who I going to give you much less work than you had before. 15% less according to Accordant, but more like 30% for many. And if that wasn’t enough, Auckland Council then decided this panel was too big, and started a similar process for those already on the panel once again. More time, and more money – the marathon finish line extended by another 10km just as you’re crossing it.

And then there are those who bought their way on to the panel. Of course, we don’t say this in polite circles. We talk about strategic partnerships and cultural alignment. All good. These firms paid good money to be able to trade with government. A government that has offered bugger-all work to agencies. Sadly, I feel that buying your way onto the panel would be cheaper now that the dust has settled than it was in the post-coital bliss following the announcement of the panel.

Anyway, maybe I’m wrong and some of you are coining it. I doubt it though.