3 lessons from the World Employment Conference 2019

17, December

From 29th October to 1st November, the World Employment Conference gathered members of the World Employment ...

From 29th October to 1st November, the World Employment Conference gathered members of the World Employment Confederation and of RCSA, the peak body for the recruitment and staffing industry in Australia and New Zealand, on the Gold Coast to talk about how to take leadership in the new world of work. It was an intense week, full of valuable insights, inspiring talks, passionate discussions, new connections and fond reunions. Here are our three take-aways.

The World Employment Conference is an annual event organised by the World Employment Confederation in partnership with one of its national federation. For the first time, the conference took place in Australia and was led by RCSA, the federation for the recruitment and staffing industry in Australia and New Zealand.

The conference started with two-days of internal meetings reserved to members of the World Employment Confederation. In addition to the more institutional meetings such as the General Assembly, WEC members had access to a full day of workshops around two themes: Advancing the industry and Capacity Building. The public conference then took place over two days and brought together almost 500 participants to the Gold Coast. With more than 30 speakers, there was plenty of food for thought for the participants to take home. Here are the three lessons we take away:

  1. Be adaptable

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is more adaptable to change.” The first keynote of the conference by Gus Balbontin, former executive director at Lonely Planet and expert in transformation, set the tone. As Peter Williams from Deloitte Centre for the Edge also pointed out, “You don’t get disrupted if you can keep up with the pace of change”. And the staffing industry landscape is for sure changing rapidly as John Nurthen from Staffing Industry Analysts showed in his session.

  1. Be bold

“If you want opportunities that not many people get, you need to make choices that not many people make”. Alexia Hilbertidou may only be 20 years old but as founder of GirlBoss New Zealand, an organisation whose objective is to get more women into CEO roles, she has already learned a lot about the need to be bold. Australian of the Year, Dr Richard Harris, was also not short of courage when he helped rescuing 12 boys and their coach trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand in 2018: “Do not shy away from doing hard things, the more you expose yourself to tough challenges, the more you’ll be ready for that big challenge heading your way!”

The private employment services industry has also to be bold, at times where the need for greater agility is unsettling for some and the industry becomes a focus for this disquiet. Faced with a rise of adverse regulation, new solutions are needed. “Politicians try to regulate new forms of work with old social frameworks. That does not work. Our creativity and influence is needed,” said Hans Leentjes, Vice-President of the World Employment Confederation

  1. Be proud and loud.

“I am so proud to be part of an industry that is good and does good. Let’s show who we are and what we do,” WEC President Annemarie Muntz called for in her opening speech. Members of the World Employment Confederation had many opportunities during the conference to showcase their achievements. First, during the WEC Awards ceremony where the federations from Belgium, Russia and Australia/New Zealand were acknowledged for their contributions to the advancement of the industry and labour markets. Then, during a conference session where representatives from each region discussed the challenges they face and the creative solutions they came up with.


In 2020, the World Employment Conference will be held in Madrid, Spain, from 29th September to 1st October. More information will be made available soon on a dedicated website. In the meantime, visit the World Employment Confederation website and follow WEC Global on Twitter and LinkedIn.