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Executive Forum - Fix healthcare, repair reputation, lead policy

March 07 2008

To grow a bigger footprint on the U.S. economy, the staffing industry must look at healthcare reform, repair its tattered image, and promote legislation, Carl Camden, president and CEO of Kelly Services Inc., said Thursday during the CEO panel discussion at the Staffing Industry Executive Forum.

"I think healthcare, in particular, is still the most critical issue for our industry," Camden said.

Access to healthcare is the No. 1 reason people don't want to be temporary workers, Camden said. Healthcare reform, with healthcare no longer linked to employment, would drive growth.

There's also reputation.

"Our industry has an unacceptable reputation," Camden said. "We have a sleazy reputation with lots of the corporations that I talk to." There's also the impression that a temp is a lesser worker and that has to change.

And, third, the industry has to do more politically. Camden said there's been no talk in the staffing industry during this presidential election about which party's platforms are most useful.

Camden appeared on the CEO panel along with Harold Mills, CEO of Zerochaos Inc., and Steven Shaw, CEO of Volt Information Sciences Inc.

Mills said public policy should be a top priority for the staffing industry. There are several concerning trends such as the 1% business tax in Washington that aren't good for the industry. "These are things that are happening today and, frankly, we're just victims of," Mills said.

Shaw said there needs to be a stronger association and long-term strategies to succeed in the global economy.

There are more than 700 attendees at this year's Executive Forum, which runs through today.

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