The State Of Contingent Labor With Mark Jones of AMS

Uncover the dramatic transformation of the labor market with us and our esteemed guest, Mark Jones from AMS. We promise you an enlightening discussion on how the global pandemic has given rise to a new wave of ‘contingent labor’, with more people seeking flexibility in work. Ever wondered how gig workers fit into this phenomenon? How have organizations managed to hire aggressively amidst all this? We ponder over these intriguing shifts, drawing insights from a recent Department of Labor report projecting that by 2027, half of the workforce will be contingent labor.

Just when you thought the twists and turns of the labor market were enough, we bring you another dimension – the impact of AI on contingent labor. Here’s a bold statement: the traditional role of recruiters is evolving, thanks to AI. But what does this mean for contingent workers? How does this play into the post-pandemic demand for work flexibility? Moreover, can technology really take over the human touch in ensuring the right match for a job? Join us as we unravel the complex tapestry of the current labor landscape, where technology and human needs intersect in unprecedented ways. Mark’s expert insights will undoubtedly make you rethink the future of work.

Listening Time: 23 minutes

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Mark Jones
Executive Vice President AMS

A passionate leader with world class in-depth knowledge of the Talent Acquisition/Recruitment Process Outsourcing industry. A subject matter expert for Contingent Workforce Solutions (CWS) and an evangelist for Contingent Direct Souring.


The State Of Contingent Labor With Mark Jones of AMS

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today we have Mark on from AMS and we’ll be talking about the state of contingent labor. So we’re going to take this in a bunch of different directions, but Mark and I have actually, we’ve had a bunch of calls together and this is just gonna be a fun topic.

So Mark, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and AMS?

Mark Jones: Yeah, of course. First of all, thank you for having me. My name is Mark Jones. I’m a executive vice president here at AMS, and I’ve been lucky enough to be with the organization for 26 years. The first 15 years, I was based in the UK.

But I relocated to the US with my wife two children and dog 12 years ago, and only meant to be for six months, then two years. But as always, is the way I thoroughly enjoyed my time here building our business across the US, but it’s also a great opportunity here in the US, both from a personal [00:01:00] and business perspective.

As for AMS, we are a global talent acquisition organization that have been in business for 26 years, probably best known for RPO, but we do have a large contingent labor practice and also a large advisory practice.

William Tincup: And you joined, like I said, 26 years ago. Did you join at the very beginning?

Mark Jones: Yeah.

Yes, I did. I did. Our, AMS’s very first client was an organization, a IT services organization. And it was our first client and I was a recruiter on site. It was like I was a kid in a candy shop because I was doing direct sourcing for contingent labor at a time where nothing else existed and we had the complete free reign to talk to managers and find candidates, leveraging the client’s brand and it became, it was the [00:02:00] first introduction to what is direct sourcing now and almost the beginning of RPO in many ways.

Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough. I believe that in anything in life you create your own luck, but also I’ve been lucky enough to join AMS at a time when we were very first starting. A lot has changed. Yeah, over the, we’re now. 10, 000 plus employees. And when I started there was five of us.

William Tincup: Wow. And it’s wonderful. Now you don’t have to explain what RPO means. There was a time in which you had to actually say, RPO is dot. And it’s, I noticed in the UK, you didn’t, staffing was by and large, it was outsourced. Whereas here in the States, it was insourced.

You had a. Corporate function that did this and yeah, things have changed through the years and all that other stuff. But I love what y’all do. And so we’ll have a, more of a love fest about AMS, but let’s jump into contingent labor. How are we defining contingent labor today?

Mark Jones: I think [00:03:00] contingent labor is anything non permanent, anything flexible where organizations want.

The services of a resource on a short term assignment. So I think that’s how I would define contingent labor. I think there’s all kinds of different nuances there in terms of how you’re classified, different types of contingent workers, and we’re definitely seeing the need for more flexibility. But William, I’d say that this is really organizations that want a flexible resource and or flexible.

William Tincup: And the intersection of gig workers, where we, gig workers are contingent labor, right? Yes, they are. They are. They might think of themselves as different, but really that’s contingent labor.

Mark Jones: Yes. Yes. And there’s been huge debate about whether they should or shouldn’t be. And we’ve seen that play out in in, in, in the media and in, in different cases.

But gig [00:04:00] workers are working on their own behalf, delivering services on an hourly basis.

William Tincup: So what we, if you’re looking, cause you’ve been doing this for a long time. Are we, cause it’s a weird market here in the States where, and a lot of the, the traditional kind of high volume or hourly spaces where like the shops are closed.

Like we have people, but they’re choosing not to work. And so it’s a weird, whether or not we’re in a recession or not, I’ll leave that for the, for other smarter people to figure that out. But it’s weird. We normally have a labor surplus. When we have some type of economic recession, whereas with this one, especially in certain industries, again, more of the hourly, more what I would say contingent, we see, I see the behaviors of that talent differently, like they’re behaving differently than they have in the past.

[00:05:00] First of all, if wherever I’m wrong, just crush it because you study this stuff every day. But what… What do you think?

Mark Jones: I think a couple of things. I think that the labor wants to work differently and wants to work with more flexibility. And I think that’s one of the things that has changed over the last few years, post the pandemic, where we are seeing more and more people that want that flexibility.

I might challenge your comment that people… don’t want to work. I think they do but I think they want more and they want more flexibility and they want to be able to choose when they work and how they work which obviously gig working manifests itself really too but so does contingent labor in its in its entirety so I think that’s one thing and the other thing I’d say is that we have come off the last two year period where the demand was completely out of kilter Off the back of the pandemic, of [00:06:00] course, everyone stopped.

Organizations have literally gone crazy hiring both full time workers and contingent workers over the last two years. So this year we’ve seen a drop in volumes. But, that’s coming off of a really high. So I think what you’ve got going on is you’ve got a general lack of workers out there. We haven’t addressed the influx of finding resources.

There’s still a, there’s still a, there’s still a gap and there is still more opportunity than there are workers. So we are fishing in a pond that we’re not putting any fresh water in to a large degree. So that, that combined with people wanting more flexibility, I think creates an environment where contingent.

In a holistic fashion, it’s becoming more and more important, and you’ve only got to look at, there was a recent Department of Labor report that [00:07:00] indicated that 50% of the workforce will operate in some form of contingent sort of model by the end of the next decade. All of a sudden, Contingent labour is such an important part of the economic environment and, it’s been fascinating that, I think, post the pandemic, Recruitment in general has become a border level conversation because it has been hard to find talent.

Everyone was competing for the same talent. There was a lack of resources. People want more flexibility, having spent more time at home. But half of the workforce in the years to come, decades to come, want to operate in a very different way to how we have traditionally operated as a country. It’s fascinating, William, in terms of how that’s all coming together.


William Tincup: It’s interesting because we used to say that, there was a… employer driven market or a candidate driven market and it seems like [00:08:00] now, those phrases are kind of containers of yesterday and the containers of tomorrow are more, it’s just a talent driven market, period, and again, you mentioned work, how they want to work, when they want to work et cetera, so it’s basically letting the talent find its way with you being opened to that, the, a lot of different types of scenarios of how talent interacts with your company and respecting like they want to work differently.

And I want for, so first of all, I want to go down that path and also wonder when you said gap, I was thinking about skills. Do we suffer? with contingent labor kind of understanding tangential skills or training people or, any, anything there on okay, do the, do even the people that we have available to do they have the skills that we need?

Mark Jones: Yeah. Fascinating points. Two things I’d say there. One is [00:09:00] I think there’s going to be an Increasing trend towards skill based hiring, irrespective of the method of engagement, whether that be, as a contractor or as a full time worker. And as a contractor, there’s different mechanisms of engagement.

So I do think we are going to see more of a drive towards. I have a need for a skill. How do I fill it? I also do feel like, yes, the market is, particularly in IT, the market is moving at such lightning speed. Sometimes the skills aren’t keeping up and there isn’t the volume of resources.

So we are seeing some examples of Organizations having to accept slightly lesser skills or skills that aren’t quite to the level that they were expecting in terms of years of experience and investing in some kind of training as well. So I think IT is a really good example where there is moving at lightning speed and [00:10:00] organizations need.

All of these are skill sets in IT, but they don’t always have that, that, that capacity in the market.

William Tincup: So then you either harvest or you look for people that have potential or potentiality that, that, that becomes an interesting kind of a bit, especially with contingent labor. I think we’ve been reluctant in the past of training contingent labor because if we train them, they’ll just leave. It’s

Mark Jones: yeah. Yeah, exactly. It’s fascinating because I think the traditional contingent landscape in the U. S. kind of goes back to what you said right at the beginning, it’s very staffing led and very commodity led and that I can find these resources, but that’s not the case anymore.

And therefore all kinds of different aspects are starting to come into play, including a client’s brand and how a client. Attracts themselves to contingent workers. I mentioned IT. So virtually every organization has, whether you are, a [00:11:00] manufacturing plant or you’re in financial services or, whatever it is, there’s always an IT element to it.

You want to work for the Googles and the apples of the world. So how do those those organizations, those mid market organizations, attract IT talent. They have to have something. So there is now, I think, an increasing trend towards increasing your brand and how you’re perceived by contingent workers, which then links to the conversation around training.

You never used to leverage your brand. You never used to do any training for contingent workers because they were a commodity that you could hire through staffing agencies. So now that we have this challenge of supply and demand, plus this the workforce wanting to work differently, I think that’s challenging organizations and challenging boardrooms and challenging TA organizations and challenging procurement.

Who traditionally have looked at contingent labor as a [00:12:00] commodity that I can buy to suddenly start thinking differently and thinking about should I train them? Or, do we give them access to different activities? Should we leverage the brand? And then co employment has to remain a big topic as well.

William, it’s, there’s quite a few dynamics that are starting to change because of the changing landscapes that we now find ourselves. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

William Tincup: I went to an airport yesterday in Charlotte and there was several stores closed like midday not a, not early in the morning or stuff like that.

Like these should have been open. And I thought to myself, that’s just lost sales. They’re still getting charged for rent and they can’t, they’re not maximizing their hours of being open.

Mark Jones: Correct. I’ll give you another example. My car’s been in the shop. It went in for a service. I asked for one thing and that was six weeks ago.

And the problem is there aren’t enough mechanics in the garage that’s able to service the cars. Yep. So we’re [00:13:00] seeing it across. All sectors of the market that that, that talent piece is increasingly important, which is why I think talent management in general, not just contingent but all types of hiring now has become that bordering conversation, whereas it certainly wasn’t in, pre pandemic days.

William Tincup: So you mentioned the word commodity earlier, and I’ve had this bit going on in my brain around, we used to look at contingent labor as a, just a faucet. We just, when we need that labor, we just turn on the faucet and whether or not we did it through staffing firms or directly or whatever, it didn’t really matter, but we could just turn on the faucet and they just show up.

And the switch that I’ve seen with candidates or talent is that they look at companies in that way as commodities, as when they want a job or when they want a gig or when they want to do work in the way that they want to work, they turn on the faucet. [00:14:00] And when they don’t, they turn off the faucet. Yep.

First of all, does that metaphor or analogy, does that, does it hold for you?

Mark Jones: Yeah, it completely does. And I think you described it spot on. The faucet gets turned off and gets turned on. And to a large extent, I would say that’s still how. Most of, corporate America hire contingent workers.

William Tincup: Yeah. But they do it at their own peril if they think exactly. If they’re thinking like that they’re missing, they’re already missing the boat much less. Correct. The future of missing the boat. Correct.

Mark Jones: Correct. It’s, and it’s starting to change. It’s like a, a big tanker.

It takes a little bit of time to change, but it’s definitely starting to change. And that comes back to the point in terms of organizations need to. Recognize that if you turn that faucet off entirely, then that’s going to have repercussions for how the worker thinks about your brand and wanting to work with you in the future.

We’re working with many. Fortune 100 organizations now trying to [00:15:00] build talent pools, trying to, of contingent workers and this isn’t a database. This is a genuine talent pool of people that want to work for that organization, that are attracted to that organization, have some brand affinity. That’s a very different approach to Turning on or off the faucet.

So I think you described it really well, that the, I think the future is going to be a little bit of, you need to keep that faucet on a little bit more and you need to attract the right people and you need to, you need to start thinking about your water flow not just expecting that you can turn it on and there’ll be water there because there might not be.

William Tincup: What are you seeing in terms of contingent labor or talent, their approach or their desire around internal mobility, or what I usually generally call what’s next, what they’re thinking about what’s next.

Mark Jones: I think interoperability is a big area for organizations to continue to work at particularly [00:16:00] organizations that fought so hard to find talent over the course of the last few years and I do think that remains a big part of The opportunities that HR and talent acquisition functions can continue to work at.

How do you continue to manifest, train and keep your teams engaged from a internal ability. Retrain, reskill. We’re seeing a lot of activities around the retraining and reskilling services. I think as for contingent. I think traditionally, contingent labor don’t tend to get involved in internal mobility.

But I can see that changing. I, again, the same comments here in terms of if a worker has been attracted to that organization because of their brand, and then they want to work with that organization, then there is some element of wanting to be kept informed about opportunities for staying within that company and changing their skill sets and developing different skills.

And I think that… The progressive organizations that do look at contingent workers from the retraining, the [00:17:00] re skilling involvement. Will benefit in, in, in the Wolf Talent. What’s your

William Tincup: take on generative AI or AI in general and the contingent market? Do you think it’s, do you think there’s something there?

I see all of, a lot of articles and podcasts and news on the corporate side. Of how, how you want to build an employee handbook. Okay. Here’s how you could use open AI to do that, chat, QBT, et cetera. Like I, I see a lot of that, but I haven’t seen as much around what contingent labor would use it for, or what people that recruit.

Contingent labor would use it for. Have you seen, first of all, what are you seeing as it relates to AI and contingent labor?

Mark Jones: So I think your second point in terms of the impact on how people recruit for it, I do think we are going to continue to see an evolution and evolving tools that, that certainly makes it easier.

to match certain skill sets. So I think the [00:18:00] traditional role of a recruiter, sourcer back in my days, I started 26, 27 years ago with a world of decks of skills that’s gone. And there are some amazing technologies that allow and support recruiters in, and sourcers finding the right talent and matching the right talent.

Yeah I, so I think we are seeing. The emergence of different technologies to help find and match skills, you still need the human voice. You still need the touch to to make sure that everything else. Outside of the quarter match works, but I definitely think that part, the recruitment part, we are seeing an impact from AI interesting question in terms of the actual contract to market themselves, in terms of what AI is going to do for those, and I would say that, again, there is so much pace and change development, I think AI will have an impact on Thank you.

Contingent workers, but I think the contingent worker population will [00:19:00] adapt to that change and there will still be the need is my general view who knows it’s gonna be an interesting journey as that starts to manifest itself But I do think it will have an impact

William Tincup: where do you see us? Let’s go short term Let’s just say if we were and I are having this podcast this time next year What’s similar?

What’s different with contingent labor? Or even the folks that are trying to attract said labor?

Mark Jones: Yeah, I think, great question. I suspect that this time next year, things will have somewhat normalized in terms of the supply and the demand. I think we may see voluntary attrition increasing as… People, yeah, right now I think we’ve seen people that want to leave assignments early has reduced because there are less assignments out there given some of the [00:20:00] economic headwinds that we’re facing and the back of the obviously the very high volumes that we saw in 2022.

So I, I think we probably will see an increasing Number of individuals that want to leave their assignment early I think demand will start to come back but not to the level we’ve seen in, in, in previous years. I think we might start to see some normality, if that word exists these days, because we haven’t had a lot of normality in history.

the talent acquisition space for the last three years. We’ve gone to the bottoms and the highs. So we, I think we could do with a couple of years of normality. We could. That

William Tincup: would be it’s the earth beneath our feet has been just moving, and so we’ve gotten used to the phrase of saying this is the new normal.

And maybe there is no normal. Maybe that’s just an illusion that we’ve concocted for ourselves to make ourselves feel better about what we’re doing. Yeah.

Mark Jones: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, [00:21:00] I. I hope there is some element of normality, but I think you, we are also going to see organizations that continue to look at contingent labor in a different light.

As I say, I don’t think it’s going to be overnight, but, maybe the medium term. will be very different to the short term. It’s not going to happen overnight, William. I think it will take, three, five years for us to see this real change of contingent workers basically being dominant and being able to do what they want and organizations will have to adapt to attract and

William Tincup: find them.

I’ve said that to CEOs over the last six months or so, where I’ve said talent drives the car. You’re in the car. You’re a passenger you might be in the front seat, you might be in the back seat but the talent is driving and the sooner you get on board with that. The

Mark Jones: better. Correct.

Yeah. And actually the better for our entire industry to start thinking about this in a very different, in a very different way. And the opportunities that technology [00:22:00] allows and embracing different different things. I think it’s, I think it’s exciting. I still feel I can’t believe that we have such a large, mature industry in finding people and how complex it is.

It’s really complex.

William Tincup: Oh, yeah. And, again, you blink and there’s a new tool, there’s a new thing that helps you find talent or engages with that talent, but still. It’s, some of the brass tacks that 26 years ago that you use, you still got to talk to them. Yes,

Mark Jones: you do, and you got to make sure they’re happy, because if you don’t, they will end up leaving.

Basic stuff. Exactly. It’s the historical… It works, plus the new is hopefully the new normality.

William Tincup: Drops mic, walks off stage. Mark, thank you so much for carving out time for us in the podcast.

Mark Jones: No problems. I really appreciate it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening.

Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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