The iPS Board of Directors takes a tour at Rotterdamsebaan, the tunnel under construction that will connect the Ypenburg junction (A4) with the City Centre Ring Road of The Hague. This is where many of the candidates of preferred supplier iPS are at work. Back at the office, the Board of Directors look back on the past few years but also gives it views on the changing market and what this will mean for iPS.
Hans van Burk, Rob Kooijmans and Patrick Mans share there views. Patrick joined the Board of Directors in 2018, which was hardly surprising, given the activities he had performed for iPS in the preceding years. Patrick translates the business mainly into the internal sections of the company and sees to it that the working processes run smoothly and that growth takes place in an organised fashion.
For iPS 2018 was a year of continues growth, despite aftershocks of the world financial crisis still being noticeable. We have used this period, for among other things as an opportunity for ‘resetting’ purposes ans preparation for entering a new phase of iPS development. Our Energy Department office in Scheveningen is an example of success and our prudent investment and planning. Looking back on 2018, the three gentlemen agree there is much to be proud of. They mention some of the highlights: ‘We opened a new office in Mexico, where iPS is considered an important player in the oil and gas industry. In Europa, a partnership was brought about with Baltics partners, which led to the iPS Baltics label. In the Middle East, we entered into a big crewing contract, and iPS is the front-runner in supporting the construction of many offshore wind farms. iPS was and still is the preferred supplier for constructing Rotterdamsebaan, and some major long-term contracts have been entered with the large dredging companies.’
Hans van Burk: ‘Tapping into new markets is wonderful, but be prepared.‘
Changes in the Market
‘The world-wide network that iPS has built in thirty years pays increasingly richer rewards,’ says Patrick Mans. ‘iPS started out as a personnel supplier but is more and more called upon as an expert and a source of information.’ Hans van Burk adds: ‘Because we know exactly how to deploy people and pay their salaries all over the world, in compliance with the legislation and regulations of the specific country. We think along with our clients and solve problems that occur. We work less on a basis of individual commissions but more on the basis of framework agreements. We meet with the customer early in the process. This does not come automatically; it is something you have to deserve: working on a good relationship is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight.’
Rob Kooijmans: ‘It is up to us to ensure the candidates can move on.‘
The need for oil and gas is expected to remain constant in the next few years. iPS will continue to be active in this market. The rapid developments in the field of new energy have a major impact on iPS, now and in the future. Rob Kooijmans: ‘Look at the capacity of wind turbines; the installations are increasing in size, price and complexity. Turbines are currently under construction that stand 300 metres tall, only 40 metres shorter than the Eiffel Tower, with 106-metre rotor blades. This is very demanding on the equipment and requires a specific class of lifting and installation vessels. Today, there are only few vessels that can lift turbines that size, so new vessels are built – with interesting opportunities for iPS.’
Hans van Burk: ‘Wind farm capacity in the North Sea is increasing. All the energy generated needs to be stored. Some exciting plans are being developed, such as creating an energy island off the Dutch coast. The idea is to convert wind energy into hydrogen. This is to be a new industry, a development that we are following closely of course.’ iPS is doing well in renewable energy. We do not only supply candidates for the construction but also for maintenance of the wind farms. Technological developments are monitored closely and offer a host of chances. Patrick Mans: ‘There are many vacancies to be filled in the field of maintenance in the wind energy sector. The labour shortage is huge. It’s a big challenge for us.’
Patrick Mans: ‘The labour shortage is a big challenge for us.‘
Blue collar and white
There is a shift taking place on the candidate side, according to the board of directors. Rob Kooijmans: ‘The days that iPS’s activities were limited to crewing are way behind us. We supply specialists in growing numbers. The group of candidates working for iPS is more diverse, with various educational levels, working on board or on shore. The largest groups of candidates used to be blue collar. In addition we now focus on white-collar jobs without disregarding the blue collar professionals. White-collar professionals move differently in the labour market and are to be found in different types of networks. Once they are at work for iPS with a client, this sets off a new dynamic: more resources are often required, and in combination with the blue collar professionals they make up powerful teams. Together the yield quality as well as turnover.’
Rob Kooijmans: ‘The white collar jobs are in all iPS segments. The candidates are seconded for a longer period, or they work on a daily basis. They are often very ambitious. They want to learn and develop. It is not so much a matter of training but rather of working on projects that are interesting. Then it is up to us to ensure they can move from one interesting project to the next and stay on, preferably on great, lucrative projects, with a good salary.’
iPS wants its recruitment to be future-proof. This requires tailor-made tactics: to find blue collar candidates you need a different strategy than you use for finding white-collar candidates, so the way of recruitment and approach are different too. For the higher jobs, social media is an important instrument; the blue collar candidates are mainly found in the ‘old-school’ way: speed, making phone calls, a good database and a good network of recruiters.
Patrick Mans: ‘Our clients’ wishes pose other demands on our consultants: they want more freedom to choose from a pool, to act independently. Yet, personal contact remains our strongest point, so this is what we continue to focus on – to find this one, suitable candidate. How the consultant’s role will be changing will become clear in the time to come.’
According to Patrick Mans, referral recruitment appears to be a good and proven way to find candidates for the senior jobs, using each other’s network, also via LinkedIn. ‘We have noticed that this generates a lot of traffic. Our own employees as well as candidates from the higher segment play a major role in this. We are thinking actively about how to benefit from this even more. Our new appointed Talent Manager has got started. In this respect, Employer Branding is very relevant. Our reputation, the iPS feeling, iPS as an interesting intermediary and reliable partner – this is what we will be propagating more vigorously.’
Hans van Burk: ‘We are always looking for new markets and recruit new consultants to tap into these new markets. Examples include the hundreds of newly constructed cruise ships, which require all kinds of people, from designers and yacht builders to entertainers, chefs, upholsterers and what have you. But also the adjacent logistics sector is a possibility worth investigating. Tapping into new markets is wonderful, but you have to be well prepared as an organisation and be absolutely certain that you can supply the candidates the clients needs. As iPS we do our utmost to be ahead of demand and to be on standby when this is necessary. In 2018, our current markets are clearly recovering. This looks very promising for iPS in 2019!