Strategizing for a New World amid COVID-19 spread: SIA Exec Forum Keynote

In light of SIA’s Executive Forum being cancelled, Barry Asin, President of Staffing Industry Analysts, gave his keynote speech via a webinar on the current state of the staffing industry.

SIA has provided a summary as apart of their Daily News for your consumption


Covid-19 has turned the world — including the staffing industry — on its head. “It certainly seems like we are entering a new world now,” SIA President Barry Asin said in a keynote speech delivered online Thursday.

Asin’s keynote, “Strategies for a New World,” was originally planned for the 2020 Executive Forum scheduled for this week in Miami. The event was cancelled amid government warnings about Covid-19 and prohibitions on large gatherings of people. As a result, Asin presented his state-of-the-industry keynote virtually to an audience of over 500 people. He opened with a “thank you” for the tremendous support shown toward SIA over the last few days and reiterated that canceling an event such as the Executive Forum was very difficult.

In addition to his keynote, Asin conducted three in-depth one-on-one conversations with top leaders in the industry: Jonis Prising, chairman and CEO, ManpowerGroup; Peter Quigley, president and CEO, Kelly Services; and Bert Bean, CEO, Insight Global. These sessions were broadcast Thursday to registered attendees of the Executive Forum.

Growth industry. Looking back, Asin said the staffing industry had its biggest year ever in 2019 with $131 billion in US revenue, with the IT and industrial segments reflecting half the total. Unemployment had been at historic lows while recruiting difficulty was at near-record levels.

The US staffing industry had been forecast to grow 3% this year; however, SIA plans to release a revised forecast next month, he said. And while revenue will likely be revised downward, the question is by how much?

The World Economic Forum had cited “infectious diseases” in its global risk landscape for 2020. The likelihood was thought to be low at the time, but the impact would be high, it predicted. Then Covid-19 turned out to be a very real factor.

Asin said a recession seems highly likely at this time.

Next phase. He spoke about a wide range of topics including touching on staffing buyer sophistication and the fact that contingent workforce management is becoming much more of a full-time job. SIA research found that 76% of executives with contingent workforce management responsibilities spent a majority of their time doing so in 2019; that’s up from just 16% in 2004.

Large staffing buyers also believe the percentage of their workforces that is contingent will continue to grow. The median response for contingent workforce managers is that 25% of their workforce will be contingent in 10 years, that’s up from 20% today.

And although Covid-19 is making things difficult for now, the staffing industry’s future, in the long term, still looks bright.

“This is an incredibly resilient and endlessly adaptable industry,” Asin said. “The big picture, looking at the longer-term trends, is much more positive.”