Name: Geraldine King
Occupation: CEO of the National Recruitment Federation
Background: Voluntary organisation set up to establish and maintain standards and codes of practice for the Recruitment Industry in Ireland. Founded in 1971, the NRF represents recruitment agencies throughout the country and it also promotes professional competence within the industry.
Since its foundation almost a half-century ago, the National Recruitment Federation (NRF) has been tasked with providing support to its membership and promoting professional competence within the industry.
As part of this mission it has inaugurated a formal education programme in recruitment practice to ensure all new entrants to the industry have a solid grounding in legislation, customer service operations and sales.
Over recent decades the recruitment industry has changed significantly with the introduction of job boards and social recruitment having presented challenges to the fundamentals of how the industry operates.
Recognised as the foremost representative body for the industry in Ireland, the NRF also lobbies at national and European level in relation to changes that impact on its members.
“The NRF has grown considerably over the last decade in particular due to putting a focus on membership and its value,” explains Geraldine King, who joined in 2009.
“It was the middle of the recession and our industry was probably one of the hardest hit, and our members found themselves dealing with a totally different market.
"It was a time when we needed to give our members tangible and workable toolkits to help them sustain and grow the business that they had.”
In her role as CEO, Geraldine King has lobbied government on labour market issues including barriers to women’s participation, the Agency Workers Act, investment in education and labour market skills and zero hours contracts.
As part of expanding NRF members’ services, she has also helped introduce the accredited Certificate in Recruitment Practice to the industry.
The main driver of the lobbying team resulting in the first apprenticeship programme for recruiters on the National Academic Framework, she also successfully secured a dedicated NRF ‘Skillnet’, providing subsidised training for members.
“To be involved in policy today is more important than ever before.” – An Illinois small business owner discusses why Main Street retailers should make their voice heard. #SmallBusinessWeek— National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) May 10, 2019
“We champion employment laws and any kind of legislative governance to help the worker, and maintain a good relationship with the Government and all those departments that are applicable to where we need to go.
"And while we have to lobby locally for what is best for the Irish labour market, we are very conscious that it is often a challenge for smaller companies to make changes that have been enacted.
"For this reason, we provide workshops and breakfast briefings to help them implement what the new legislation directs.”
The NRF is currently taking applications for its Programme in Recruitment Practice, the only dedicated programme of its kind in Ireland, and presented in partnership with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and City & Guilds.
“One of my first briefs coming into the NRF was to implement an education portfolio for members, and coming from a background in recruitment, I could see the need for it — also helped by my pre-recruitment background in training.
"We put in place this certificate of recruitment practice which is the only one of its kind in Ireland, and which does tick a lot of boxes.”
Designed to instigate a uniform standard across the industry, the qualification will give holders a competitive edge: “The programme is a must for those new to the industry or for those with experience who wish to validate and improve their knowledge.
"Agency clients will be secure in the knowledge that they are employing a qualified recruiter, and successful graduates will be entitled to use the ‘NRF certRP’ title after their name,” she adds.
In addition, the NRF has also recently applied for an apprenticeship programme, which would be a ‘first in the world degree’ of its kind.
“It is already written and we hope to have it in the market by January 2020, and we are only waiting on red tape to be completed,” she said.
Another issue with relevance for an Ireland currently at almost full employment is the research revealing that women over the age of 35 have lower participation rates in the workforce than their EU counterparts.
“The cost of childcare is the single biggest inhibitor of women with children returning to the workforce,” she says.
“Lack of affordable day-care and after-school childcare means one parent, usually the woman, but sometimes the man, has to give up their career, or to limit their contribution.”
With childcare costs in Ireland amongst the highest in the OECD, she cites the success of the Swedish system where state-supported childcare and education is fundamental to welfare policies and budget spending.
“Affordable childcare is a pipe dream for most Irish families when paying out monthly costs amounting to almost a second mortgage. There needs to be an holistic and determined approach where affordable childcare is the first hurdle, followed by further practical steps,” she believes.
“Encouraging the provision of flexible working options by employers, including the State, to assist parents integrate back into the workforce, with back-to-work training and a stepped return to build confidence and allow better preparation.”
Last September, Geraldine King and Frank Farrelly, CEO and president of the NRF, respectively, were ranked on a prestigious European listing for business leaders in the staffing arena.
The Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), European Business Leaders Top 100 List recognised their roles in developing formal education and training supports within the Irish recruitment sector.
“Having two of the NRF executive included in this industry roll of honour is very satisfying and reflects the challenges currently faced by the recruitment sector in Ireland, navigating the world of work through the rapid shifts in the marketplace of late,” she said of the honour.