A Publication of WTVP

If you had the opportunity to attend the Chamber of Commerce’s Power Breakfast, you were fortunate to hear one engaging and dynamic speaker in Rebecca Ryan. Among her many credentials, Rebecca has been named a "Woman of Influence" by the Business Journal and the 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year by the US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She’s also the founder of Next Generation Consulting, Inc. and, in her presentation, discussed the subjects of business management, the workforce shortage, and some strategies on how to prepare for it. These are subjects the staffing industry deals with every day. I wondered how she felt about the industry, and she was generous enough to give me a little more of her time.

Q. What’s your view on the staffing industry’s role in the workplace?

A. "First, I think you’ve played a critical role as companies moved to contingency workforces in the 1980s and 1990s. I was a temp many times and was so grateful for all that I was exposed to and all that I contributed to those various organizations. For a new college grad, it was very eye-opening to have exposure to so many different sorts of businesses. I would go so far as to say that ’temping’ should be required before college graduation. As an entrepreneur, I also feel you could do so much more to serve your clients. By now, you’re used to hearing my contrarian viewpoints, so it won’t surprise you when I say that if we could just get a critical mass of U.S. companies understanding how to marry all their rhetoric about ’people are our most important assets’ with actual practices, we’d have turned on, loyal employees."

Q. What do you see as the future for our industry?

A. "I think the future of your industry is doing more worker training to supplement placement. Bottom line: our K-16+ systems aren’t just showing their age, they’re cracking. Why do Michael Dell and others start companies in their dorm rooms, their basements, and their garages and drop out of school to do it? These folks should be inventing in school. Also, there are so many MBAs today who have no real experience that corporations have MBA fatigue. Bottom line: we have unprepared workers, and small businesses especially can’t afford the investments to get people from 0 to 60. So, from my perspective, placement companies that can prepare employees for ’real work’ will provide a great service."

Q. Any thought on the good and bad of our industry?

A. "The good part-and there are many-of your industry is that companies are learning to source things that aren’t their highest and best use (for example, HR functions and payroll). The bad is that if companies continue to view people as disposable and replaceable, we’ll always miss the magic potency of engaged workers." IBI