Staying Power Job Market Is Ripe for `Temps' Temporary Employment Firms Help Many Get Foot in Door

Article excerpt

Andrew Roberts worked in floor maintenance at a department store for more than two years before a temporary employment service helped him find a foundry job.

He started as a temporary worker at $5.50 an hour in the grinding department at Didion & Sons Foundry in St. Peters. A year and a half later, Roberts makes more than $8 as a permanent employee. He gets benefits and says he thinks he has a future.

Temporary jobs are "the way of the future," Roberts, 38, tells friends. "It's your best bet for getting a good job."

Increasing numbers of employers and workers such as Roberts see temporary employment services as an important middleman in the job market. The workers get a foot in the door to permanent employment. The employers cut personnel costs.

Employment analysts say the services are filling a gap in the changing job market. Bruce Steinberg, spokesman for the National Association of Temporary and Staffing Services, said the association's members provide 85 percent of the temporary jobs in the United States. Membership in the association - a measure of the increase in employment service companies - grew by nearly one-third in the past two years.

Twenty years ago, businesses turned to temporary employment services mainly to replace sick or vacationing employees. Now, as unemployment rates have dropped, temporary employment services find themselves spending more time recruiting and less time finding jobs, Steinberg said.

In the future, temporary services should figure into many more workers' career development plans, Steinberg said.

Workers should "recognize they have to be flexible," he said. "The paternalism of corporate life doesn't exist any longer, if it ever did."

Ferd Potthast, director of personnel at Didion, calls temporary services "my ancillary personnel department."

Didion makes parts for lawn mowers, tractors, pumps and other equipment. "This is a hard-working American job" that requires entering workers to learn the machinery and put in a good day's work, Potthast said. …

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