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Disability Solutions

Europe is Old

Summer is winding down and Europeans are coming down from their holiday highs, so it’s a great time to drop some knowledge bombs from the Old Country. Staffing agencies are under fire for what politicians say is price gauging customers for in return for placements in the healthcare space. The care may be subsidized in Europe, but the placements are capitalism at its best (or worst). A toxic combination. A little Who’d Ya' Rather? follows, pitting 11x AI against Borderless. Weird names, but interesting businesses. Who wins? Gotta listen. A story out of Italy closes out the show with a new story about ending benefits for thousands of families and individuals deemed "fit to work.”


Intro: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel: Oh, yeah. It's International Slinky Day. And this podcast too is fun for a boy and a girl. This is the Chad and Cheese podcast does Europe. I'm your co-host, Joel "Slinkity" Cheesman.

Chad: I'm Chad "It's called soccer" Sowash.

Lieven: And I'm Lieven "Totally into nurses" Van Nieuwenhuyze.


Joel: And on this episode, healthcare research, Italy says ciao to freebies and who'd you rather. Let's do this. Look at Lieven how refreshed he is.

Chad: He should be.

Joel: He's so rested and refreshed. This whole Europe take July and August off is working for me, even though I'm not partaking.

Chad: Well, yeah, I think you probably get a good enough July and August off. But anyway.

Joel: That's... [laughter] This podcast is really cramping, my napping schedule. By the way, Chad.

Chad: Yeah. Having to be up by 11:00. Yeah, that's too much. Yeah. No, dude I love just the opportunity for time away for yourself. And Europeans do that better than anybody. Probably the French mostly but Europeans do it better than anybody.

Joel: Well, I love that you're talking about it in the green room, you leave Europe at this time of year because your Airbnb can be a cash machine for a couple months for all the Europeans going to Portugal.

Chad: Yeah. I don't... I mean, I like Europeans, but I don't like that many Europeans.


Joel: Nobody. So you're done vacationing, Lieven. Do you want to fill us in on where you went, what you did?

Chad: Tell me a little bit about Madeira, man. I want to hear that. We got a chance to go. I wanna hear your experience.

Lieven: So that's how we pronounce it in English, Madeira?

Chad: Yes.

Lieven: Okay. Yeah. We say Madeira, but probably so it's Madeira. It's nice.

Joel: That's way sexy.

Lieven: So Madeira actually it is Portugal. So we have something in common, Chad. It's nice. Madeira, Madeira. It's a beautiful island as you know. And the climate, I love the climate it was like in Celsius, but you have Fahrenheit or something, but at 27 degrees. A bit clouds, not too hot. And that's something people start to appreciate with this long hot summers in the south of Europe, 27 degrees is just perfect. So it's nice. I love it.

Chad: I can't wait to go back. We've got the family, we're taking the family there for Christmas and New Year's, so really stoked. Luckily, luckily, I've got a buddy who has a big house there, so we can fit them all.

Lieven: Nice.

Chad: We can fit them all in.

SFX: Shout-out.

Chad: All right. All right. We gotta do this first. Again, it's called soccer. Why? Because Messi, the GOAT is in the United States, and he is lighting it up over here. He is filling stadiums, he's doing things that Joel Cheesman never thought was possible. This, to me, deserves a shout-out. Yes, he's Argentine. Although football, we all know is very, very European. So a big shout-out to Messi and bringing the love of the game to the US.

Joel: The dude is ridiculous. I'm not the biggest soccer fan, but like the highlights and what he's doing. It looks like he's...

Chad: A man playing with kids.

Joel: Yeah. It'd be like Jordan playing with kindergartners in his heyday. Like, I can't even... I'm tempted to buy the MLS package just to watch him. It's 30 bucks a year, I think, or the season. Pretty good deal. I mean, he's doing what Pele, Beckham, Rooney, all these guys couldn't do. He's selling out Cincinnati. He's selling out Columbus. He's selling out all these stadiums. And I mean, dare I say, Premier League Soccer, I feel is more important. The season just started recently. Like, I'm kind of watching on Saturday mornings. My six-year-old has soccer, so we'll usually pre-game with some Aston Villa or Man U, like get pumped up.

Chad: Liverpool. [laughter]

Joel: I don't know, man. I'm feeling a little bit of the football fever, little bit of the football fever.

Chad: As Lieven's over there. He is like, yeah, this is old hat for me. So what do you... Have you heard about it? Have you seen what Messi he's been doing over across the pond?

Lieven: Some people who like soccer or football probably have, but I couldn't care less. I have really no idea. I know his name, but that's about it.

Chad: We gotta give Lieven a test. I'm not really sure he's European.


Joel: He is royalty. He doesn't deal with the commoners and their games of soccer and footy and rugby and all that. He's doing like fencing and horse...

Lieven: Polo. Polo. Yes. Yes, yes. During when we go to the stadt, where we have those sleighs and then we sleigh riding with horses.

Joel: Yeah. Lieven's with horses. He's skiing in the Alps. Like that's his jam. That's his jam. By the way, it's the summer of pink over here. Barbie's the hottest movie. Messi's the hottest athlete in the country. All doing it in pink and doing in a hot pink. And speaking of hot, Chad.

Chad: Yes. Hot chicken.

Joel: My shout-out goes, my shout-out goes to air conditioning. Oh, yeah. Nashville's coming up. That's a different podcast. Air conditioning. As an American, I take air conditioning for granted, especially in August and with climate change. But I recently found out, Chad, that 20%, only 20% of European homes have air conditioning. That's compared to 88% of homes in the good old US of A. Europe, by the way, is the world's fastest warming continent on the planet. So stay cool Europe. Shout-out to air conditioning.

Chad: So Lieven, do you have air conditioning in your place?

Lieven: We don't need it, really.

Chad: Yeah in Belgium, yeah. And so down in the Algarve we do, but I mean, it gets, yeah, a little warm.

Lieven: Of course.

Chad: It gets a little warm down there. So we do have AC.

Lieven: This summer we didn't really need it. It was mostly very cold.


Lieven: No, really it was, it was. Today we have the heating on actually, because it's chilly.

Chad: Yeah. For those listeners who can't see. But Lieven's all bundled up. I think he had a scarf on before he started.


Lieven: It's not a scarf, but a...

Joel: He was wearing his ascot with his smoking jacket and his leather slippers.

Lieven: Oh my God.

Joel: I'm surprised in the summer when we go, Chad, how hot the UK can get. It can get pretty warm there in the UK.

Chad: Well, remember when we were there for the... Not this last Wreck Fest, but the one before, but the Luton Airport tarmac was melting.

Joel: Melting, yeah.

Chad: It was so fuckin hot.

Joel: Yeah. Enjoy that cool Belgian air while you can, Lieven. By the way, Chad, in October we're gonna be in Europe and I'm sure it's gonna be cool enough by October. Where are we going in Europe?

Chad: Yeah, we're going to UNLEASH Paris. As a matter of fact, I just got my Airbnb yesterday, thank God. Early October, kids. If you're going to HR Tech or you're not going to HR Tech, you definitely have to go to UNLEASH. It is a spectacle, UNLEASH World in Paris. It's a blast. And you can go to and find all the places we're gonna be and register right there.

Joel: And Lieven is continuing to take a vacation from shout-outs this week. Maybe next week he'll have something.

Lieven: I changed my mind.

Joel: Oh, okay.

Lieven: I've got a shout-outs just because...

Chad: Here we go.

Joel: Bring it.

Lieven: You're making me look like some, how did you call it? Royal, huh? My shout-out goes to...


Joel: Royal, the Bourgeoisie. Yeah. Whatever.

Lieven: Do you know her? Lotte Kopecky. Ever heard of Lotte Kopecky?

Chad: No.

Joel: No.

Lieven: Ah, you male chauvinist pics because it's a girl, huh?


Lieven: No. Lotte Kopecky, she's Belgian and she just became the world champion on the road cycling. So cycling is something pretty big in Belgium. And she became the world champion, so suddenly we're all into female cycling.

Joel: All right.

Lieven: So my shout-out goes to Lotte Kopecky just to show that I know her and that my knowledge basically enhanced but still.


Joel: Inclusive and sports related shout-out from Lieven.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: I love it. I love it.

Lieven: And there's also a link with HR because she's sponsored by SD Worx. You know SD Worx?

Chad: No.

Joel: No.

Lieven: No, it's an HR company, whatever.

Chad: Okay.

Lieven: Okay.

Chad: There's the connection.

Lieven: Lotte Kopecky.

Chad: Very nice.

Joel: Love it. Good job, Lieven. And topics.


Joel: Let's talk healthcare, guys. The World Employment Confederation recently published a strategic paper outlining the importance of quality and cost-effective healthcare services around the globe and how the HR services industry, particularly agency work is an important piece of the pie. Highlighted was the balance and appropriate national regulation as a basis for the effective use of agency work and staffing services in healthcare. The article also expresses concern that attempts to restrict the use of agency work in several countries in Europe, risks aggravating the staff shortages that already prevail and therefore undermines the sustainability of healthcare systems. European healthcare staffing. Lieven, you have some deep insight on this one. What are your thoughts?

Lieven: We're pretty much involved because we have some companies in Belgium and the Netherlands and Germany active in healthcare staffing. So we are definitely watching this one close. And you have to know the World Employment Confederation, they launched this paper or this survey because of a series of newspaper articles which were published during the recent months on politicians, mostly populist politicians who thought attacking temporary and contract work in healthcare would give them them some easy attention in view of the upcoming elections. And that's basically what is happening because there's a big difference between healthcare in Europe and in the US, of course, everyone knows. In Europe it's accessible to anyone. Standards are pretty high. That's great, but it's expensive. Healthcare is really expensive, and it's paid by the government so it's mostly financed through taxpayers money. So for politicians, it's easy to say those companies are stealing money from the government so basically are stealing money from you poor taxpayers. And they try to get some attention and nobody can be against politicians attacking multinationals trying to abuse the taxpayer.

Lieven: So that's their point. Problem is, of course, it's totally not as those populist politicians claim it is. It's really, it's a complicated situation. So I'm going to give a short introduction and then you can fire away. But just to give you an idea, do you know how much it cost to go to a doctor in Belgium, for example, or in Western Europe? Do you have an idea?

Chad: For the end user?

Lieven: Yeah, just for let's say out-of-pocket money for me as a patient going to a doctor.

Joel: Zero.

Lieven: What do you think I'd pay? It's not zero.

Joel: Okay.

Lieven: No, because if it was zero then... And if that actually was the case, some people went to the doctor.

Joel: It's €1.


Lieven: No, it's €4 actually, four. Yeah, because...

Chad: Wow. Okay.

Lieven: Yeah, I know. Because if it's zero, some old people actually went to the doctor just because they were lonely and they had to talk so they had to make them pay something just to put, in Dutch it's called (NO CLUE HOW TO SPELL THAT) it's to put a break on that.

Joel: Sure.

Lieven: So it's really cheap. But with the aging population, the healthcare system is getting really expensive for everyone. So the politicians thought we're going to cuts on the money, and they tried it but then suddenly COVID came and they realized it wasn't a very good idea to save too much money on healthcare. We definitely need healthcare. So now they're trying to raise taxes, but then of course nobody likes that, huh? Raising taxes. That's a difficult subject.

Joel: And when you say it's getting expensive, you don't mean the €4, you mean the taxes that come into it.

Lieven: No, no, no, no. It's basically the system is getting expensive.

Joel: Okay.

Lieven: Just free healthcare is getting too expensive for the government.

Joel: Yep.

Lieven: And they have to transfer lots of money from other departments to healthcare just to keep it up. So they started first by, some politicians started by attacking some doctors. They said those doctors they make too much money. But that wasn't really a popular subject because basically most people feel those doctors should make a lot of money because studies are really hard. It takes a lot of time, 12 years at least at the university and basically people feel those doctors they deserve it. So as a politician, you didn't become really popular by attacking doctors and now they're trying something else. They're trying to attack the staffing companies who put mostly nurses in hospitals. And they say those staffing companies are making money on the backs of the taxpayer because that's something you need to realize. The healthcare industry is privately owned. So healthcare is supported by the government, but the industry is privately owned. So all those doctors are mostly self-employed, and those nurses are mostly employees of those private hospitals.

Lieven: In the end, it's the taxpayer who pays and that's something you have to realize. So healthcare is becoming more and more expensive. Cost cutting didn't really work out so they're looking for a different way to save some money. And now attacking temporary contract work in the healthcare sector is something new they try.

Joel: So are they tightening the screws in terms of profitability of the staffing companies or is this just a, "We're mad at you and it's getting political." Like, are they really passing regulation in terms of ceilings on profits?

Lieven: Not yet.

Joel: Or is this just theater?

Lieven: Not yet, it's theater. It's because they just, next year, there is election in Belgium and in the Netherlands and those politicians now, they're just looking for a subject with which they can get some attention. So there's no talk about, not yet about legislation change or anything. It's mostly newspaper articles. But the problem is, and that's something they don't tell even their voters, healthcare industry absolutely needs flexible staffing because otherwise there will be a huge problem. I'm going to give you a few examples. There are many, but just a few. For example, there is the need for a flexible pool of nurses to fill in a certain urgent demand. It would be totally unsustainable to be constantly fully staffed. You have to have some kind of a flexible pool. If people, if a lot of nurses suddenly become ill, they have to be replaced. If there is some kind of a pandemic, you have to be able to provide extra nurses. So this flexible pool has to be there, but it's something those hospitals, they can't organize themselves. And this is basically where the flex work came from or why it's becoming more popular. And to put things in perspective, in Belgium, for example, only 3% of all nurses are working in some kind of a flexible contract. In the Netherlands, it's about 10%. And in most countries, it's somewhere between 2 and 7, 8 percent.

Lieven: So it's not like it's huge, but it's a fact that the numbers are growing because more and more nurses want to work in some kind of a flexible contract. And that's actually a fact. And House of HR has done a big survey, about 1,500 nurses were asked about why did you became flex worker? Why did you became a freelance worker or maybe a temping worker or a projects? Why did you work in project staffing? And we wanted to know because politicians mostly claim they do it to make more money. And we found out that's totally not the case. It's not even in the top five of reasons. So the five most important reasons were, nurses saying, I want to have more flexibility in my work schedule. And that's something which definitely makes sense because those people also have families and they have to be able to put their children to school, etcetera. So flexibility, also nurses needed. They want more variety in their jobs. They are... And that's something I liked. They enjoyed being a freelancer more than working as an employee. It's like saying, when I'm a freelancer, my boss is my client. And that's a different approach. They say, I want to gain experience in multiple places. Also makes sense. The moment you graduate, you don't know what your career should be like.

Lieven: There are so many different ways to work within healthcare and they can try several. And the fifth one was, I wanted to be able to do other things besides working in healthcare. So these were the first five most important reasons. And I believe making more money came on the sixth or seventh place. And it is true in some cases, if you work with a staffing company as a nurse, in some cases you will make more money than if you work directly for a hospital. And that's the difficult part. There has been some cases where temping agencies were poaching nurses from hospitals. They were contacting them directly and saying, if you work with us, you can still work in the hospital, but you will make more money. And that, of course, that could be a problem because if all nurses would work in the same way, then actually healthcare would become extremely expensive. But in this case, it's different. We're talking about most nurses, 3% of those in Belgium are choosing to work in a different way of work and in a flexible way of work, not for the money and they don't make more money. It's just a different way of working. And this is something I think nobody can be against.

Lieven: But I definitely feel there should be within the industry, some kind of a self-regulation. And I feel there should be a code of conducts in which something should be stipulated, or how do you say it, should be mentioned. Like a non-poaching agreement makes sense. You can't just call a hospital nurse and say, we're going to hire you and then put you back. Shouldn't be allowed.

Joel: When staffing companies say, you can make more money with us, is that because they're negotiating a new contract with the hospital and giving that money to the nurse? But then you said you're not making more money. Like, help me understand...

Lieven: No.

Joel: If I'm a staffing agency and say, hey, come with us, you'll make more money. How does that work?

Lieven: It depends on the, how do you say it in English? Statut, the status, is that the word?

Chad: Status, yeah.

Joel: Status.

Lieven: Status, yeah. If you're employed or if you're a freelancer, tax is totally different because you have to make sure you get your insurance as a freelancer. That's totally a different structure. It would lead us too far now. But if you have your own company as a nurse, if you're a freelancer, then you could probably make more in the end if you have a good accountant and it's a possibility. But it's definitely not a reason why people...

Joel: Kind of like taking an employed truck driver and saying, be your own driver, you'll make more money. At least that's the argument. Be your own boss, okay.

Lieven: Yeah, but then you have to have your own truck. You have to buy your own truck. You have to, of course.

Intro: Oh, yeah.

Lieven: I think in many cases it would be easier not to be your own truck driver, not to be your own boss and just work for a company. So I think there are so many things you need to take into account that I don't think those nurses make much more money, definitely not still. So have, it would lead us too far. In any case, it's not a reason why they chose to be freelancer or why they do staffing work. So I also think a fair pricing should be definitely negotiated. It's not like a staffing company can say, we are going to claim all the nurses and then we're going to charge ridiculous amounts. This is something, and I feel you just should have the competition work this out. There are many companies and normal competition will realize, I think, a reasonable pricing. It's mostly, it's like always in staffing, it's just a coefficient, how do you call it? An extra percentage on the wages paid to cover your own expenses as an agency.

Chad: Margin, yeah.

Lieven: A margin, of course and of course there should be a commitment to legal and ethical standards, the quality of service should be guaranteed, respect and fair treatment, those kind of things should be in a code of conduct. And this is something the politicians could look at, but claiming temping makes the industry too expensive, it's just ridiculous, it's totally not the case. I think as a contrary, if each hospital should have a flexible layer and they should have to manage it themself, it would be totally too expensive. So the World Employment Confederation came to the same result. They've published a big survey on it, and if people are interested, you can find it on the website of WEC. We also did a big survey on it, we did a paper on it, and now it's the nice lobby work contacting politicians and trying to make them see reason.

Chad: I want to be able to clear some things up with regard to like, costs for US versus Europe. Okay. So, first off, the most expensive country in Europe costs about 8000 USD, a little over 8500 USD per capita. Okay. So, per person in that country. In Belgium, it's around $6600 per person. And again, in Europe, everybody's covered. In the US, it's $13,000, more than twice, rather around twice that of what it is in Belgium and not everybody is covered. That's so, I still love the European system no matter what, right? What we're talking about, and for $4 copay, we're paying anywhere from 20-50 bucks, and I had to pay $850 outta my own pocket for an MRI. Total, it's total fucking chaos and 20% of our GDP by the way.

Lieven: And you have insurance of course, so they've paid, yeah.

Chad: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I've got "great insurance" but I'm still paying. Most people can't afford to go pay $850 to get an MRI.

Lieven: Of course not.

Chad: To get their self fixed so I just wanna be able to carve out the huge differences between the two systems. Secondarily, I think there's a, there could be a huge danger in, I think Europe is taking a look at what the US, the US media has been talking about and that's gouging profiteering, they're trying to make that a narrative in Europe as well. And if they've got the numbers, they're gonna play that game. But here's what happened in 1968 that I think is a much smaller scale, but something that I think it's important that you guys do self-regulate and you work directly with the government.

Chad: Because Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 privately employed air traffic controllers when the union said that they were going to go on strike, right? Because this was going to put massive harm on the US economy, the exact same thing. The types of positions that we're talking about are vital to the importance of the number of people aged 85 and overs is looking to grow 55% by 2037, just in the UK alone. So this has gotta be something that government looks at and you guys look at in together to be able to fix this problem, because if government takes over and says, okay, we're just gonna do the Reagan thing, and maybe not the entire industry because we're talking about millions of people. But taking swaths and saying, look, nurses, we need to be able to take control over this because this is a huge problem and vital to not just our livelihood, but our economy. So I think it's incredibly smart that you guys are doing what you're doing in digging into this to try to find out where the answer is.

Lieven: And the interesting part is, if you look at Norway, for example, Norway has extremely strict laws concerning temping and project staffing. They're really even for us, left wing, and normally unions aren't really into flexible staffing thing because people who work for a staffing agency, they're not allowed to vote in the social elections, so for the unions, they unions just don't like it. So in Norway, regulations are really strict and they made an exception for healthcare. In, I think it was in April this year, regulations were changed in Norway, but only with the exception for healthcare because they realized we need the flexibility in healthcare, and this is something that totally makes sense and something...

Chad: Great precedent to go off of.

Lieven: Yeah, definitely, and something and the Western Europe should take into account.

Joel: So Chad outlined the differences in American and European healthcare. There's one thing that we both have in common that happened recently called the pandemic, and the pandemic put incredible stress on healthcare systems across the world. In America, just as it did in Europe, we saw burned out nurses quit the profession altogether, we saw doctors burned out, just stresses that really tested the system. On top of that, there's a theme riding on this European show on employment, and it's the demographic challenges of Europe. Europe is getting older, it's not producing a lot of young people in comparison, and when you have older and older people, that's a stress on the healthcare system as well. Older people don't get healthier, they get sicker, and they need young people to, one, pay for them to get healthcare as well as take care of them directly.

Joel: We saw France up the retirement age, we're gonna talk about Italy in a second, governments in Europe are struggling with this issue of paying for healthcare, paying for entitlements, and now paying more and more for military expenses and that's a really tough question to answer. And what tends to happen is they look at the boogeyman that is most available at the particular time, I think in this case, staffing agencies are the boogeyman in this scenario, they're easy to go after. It's easy to say, hey, staffing companies are gouging us, that's why you're paying so much, that's why nurses aren't in hospitals or, you know, like, it's an easy, easy target, I think for governments. The bigger question is how do we get our population up? How do we get people working again? How do we get tax revenues up? Like, those are the bigger questions. The staffing agency question to me is not a big issue here, they have much bigger fish to fry, but this is a nice headline. It's an easy win politically. The unfortunate thing is demographic changes are not Democratic, Labor, Conservative, Tory, it affects everybody no matter what the borders are, and this issue is sort of underscoring the ongoing demographic challenges that are encompassing Europe.

Lieven: Absolutely, and the shortage is really structural, it's getting harder each day. So that's interesting part in fact within the survey we did with those 1500 nurses, we asked one of the questions was, if legislations would change and you would be forced to become employed again or leave the nursing industry altogether, over 75% said they would at least consider looking for a totally different job because they want the flexibility. And this is something we have to keep in mind also, it's not like the employees or the employers can still decide. It's the employees who are in charge. And if they want to work in a flexible way, you have to allow them.

Joel: I was interested, the paper from the World Employment Confederation had no mention of automation, augmentation, how technology can kind of help bridge the gap between not enough people and giving them superpowers like we talk about in recruiting. None of that was mentioned on that paper, and I think it is something that every country's gonna have to consider moving forward, is how do we get technology to help augment some of the healthcare issues that we're facing?

Chad: That's, and that's where you get an organization like House of HR who's an expert in this space, who can actually bring that to the table. This doesn't get fixed by government alone. This does not get fixed by private industry alone. Right? This has to be a collaboration between the two. And when that happens, the optics are much better for the politicians, which is exactly what they want in the first place. You guys have the experience, you have the tech, you know all of this. Being able to actually be the guide is the biggest key here.

Lieven: Absolutely, and I always say the recruitment industry is getting more technical each day and it's getting more complicated and given the shortage in basically every industry, it's becoming more technical, so you have to know what you're doing and it's becoming more specialized. And hospitals, they just can't hire the nurses they need anymore. And companies like ours, we are still able to find the people because we do have the technology. We hire them, we train them, we offer them whatever they need to work as efficiently as possible. And this is something we need, you can't just have nurses sitting around waiting until they are asked to fill in someone, to replace someone who became ill, for example. So those few nurses we have, they need to be able to work as efficiently as possible, and there's definitely something our industry could manage, we are... It's our core business, hiring people, matching people, matching or scheduling those pools, it's our business.

Joel: Yep, well when we come back, things will lighten up a little bit with who'd you rather. Who's ready for some who'd you rather?

SFX: What are you doing, step bro?


Joel: All right, here's how we play the game, gang. We talk about two companies that have recently gotten some funding. I'll read a summary and then at the end we decide, who'd you rather each of the guys sound off? Are you guys ready to play?

Chad: Yes.

Lieven: Yeah.

Joel: Who'd you rather? All right. Well, in this corner we have Borderless, London-based startup Borderless has raised 2.5 million pounds in a seed funding round to address the country's shortage of care workers, sound familiar? Borderless offers automated vetting and sourcing via visa processing and relocation management services for care providers. A former Microsoft executive was an investor in the round. Borderless aims to automate the hiring and onboarding of international workers, simplifying the process for both employees and employers while reducing costs and risks. The startup plans to expand its services to the wider UK healthcare sector in the near future, that is Borderless. Now let's talk about UK based startup 11x AI. They've raised $2 million in pre-seed funding to launch their AI digital workers. The company's first AI digital worker is named Alice, an AI sales development representative. 11x AI says that it's AI-powered team members can help businesses of all sizes to automate repetitive tasks and "amplify human potential." The funding will be used to develop additional AI digital workers and to create a platform that will allow businesses to build their own AI digital workers. That is 11x AI and Borderless. Chad, who'd you rather?

Chad: Whew. Let's start off with 11A or 11x AI. They've launched obviously these digital workers, but they're doing it to the SME market, which we all know is a very hard market to try to break into. You wanna spend money on AI in GPUs to make this thing work right, right? You're not gonna have the cash to spend on marketing, which is exactly what you need for the SME market. And then as the company says, its mission is to automate everything. I mean everything, there's literally no place for me to start here, okay. Then Borderless, who is taking aim at the country's shortage of care workers, this is obviously a big problem, we just had a whole segment about it. It's a legit issue that will be a very persistent problem that needs fixed as reported by the BBC.

Chad: The average churn in the care industry is 50% year over year. Plus, as I said earlier, the number of people aged over 85 is expected to grow 55% by 2037. Who'd I rather? It's very simple, Borderless is who I would rather, because I think that might be an House of HR, I don't know, acquisition target sometime very soon.


Joel: Oh, that's one for borderless. All right, guys.

Lieven: Might as well be.

Joel: So I agree, healthcare is a huge issue care workers, huge issue in the UK and everywhere in the world, which we just spoke about. However, the market potential with just a UK healthcare business, assuming even they grow throughout Europe, is fairly limited. I do believe that more and more companies, yes, Chad, you can't see it on the audio, but yes, Chad. The total addressable market for digital workforces is humongous, there's gonna be a lot of competition in the space, there's gonna be a lot more money come in. 11x AI, as bad as the name is, is gonna get a lot of funding for what they're doing. Look, we had a story on the weekly show a couple of weeks ago about a customer service company let go 90% of its workforce to be replaced by digital workers. I can tell you if companies could replace a lot of their Salesforce to do sort of the initial SDR process, they would definitely do it.

Joel: A lot of companies, particularly startups that can't afford the headcount of salespeople, particularly good salespeople, are gonna drop coin on companies like 11X AI to save money, get more sales in the door. Like the website says, hi, I'm Alice, your new AI SDR. I consume trillions of bytes of data to become the world's best SDR. I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week at scale to help you grow faster and automate prospecting. Hire me today and supercharge your growth. Those are words that I can get behind, and those are words that say I would rather 11x AI.

SFX: Just the tip.


Joel: All right Lieven, break the tie, baby.

Lieven: Okay, who would I rather? I don't think it's a coincidence that Borderless was launched in the UK because it's the only country within Europe where it actually might succeed, I feel. Because of the language, so many companies have tried and the word might sound a bit harsh, but importing care workers from all around the world into their own country, and there is always a big language problem. I know some Belgium company who tried to get nurses from the Philippines in to Belgium because we needed them but even after one year of intense language training, it just didn't work out. And after two years, those people were getting, they didn't like it and they return to the country, to the Philippines, and they tried it from the north of Africa, different countries. I don't know any case in which it succeeded.

Lieven: Of course, in the UK it's a different thing because they have their old colonies, where many people still speak English and that might be the big game changer. If it's UK, I think the 2.5 million investment is I'm sure a pretty good investment. The other one, 11x, it's a difficult one, of course, and today it's very sexy to be active within AI. If you call your company X, it makes a difference. I'm an ex user for example, an ex user of Twitter that is. I do believe in the whole concept about the digital shifts, and we've been talking about our congress, March 19th, it'll be in Amsterdam. And the title of the congress is the digital shifts and as the shift from traditional economy to a strictly digital powered by AI but it's also about the digital shift like you have the night shift and the early morning shift. You also have the digital shift, there will be digital people working in your company, being your colleagues, and this is exactly what 11x is doing with Alice. And they are creating a persona, a difficult, sorry, a digital profile which will more or less behave like a human being. And this will only get better and more realistic. I'm not sure about it, so it's sexy, but I think I would wait a bit just to see how it turns out. So today I would go for the Borderless.

SFX: What are you doing, step bro?

Joel: All right, gang, that is another...

Chad: Who'd you rather?

Joel: Who would you rather? Thanks for playing, thanks for playing. All right. Let's get to our final story, the Italian government is ending benefits for thousands of families and individuals deemed "fit to work." The citizen's income allowance will only be for families meeting limited criteria such as those with a disabled person, a minor or an individual over the age of 65. The benefit was introduced four years ago, but the new right-wing government is tightening the social welfare system, opponents criticized the decision saying it would be particularly difficult for those in their 50s to retrain and find new jobs. Get a job hippie. Chad what are your thoughts on the news out of Italy?

Chad: It's interesting. First, let's give a little background. Meloni is she's actually a Mussolini fan, she's a radical right winger, she's a fascist. Here's the kicker. Hey, Italians, this was one of Meloni's campaign promises. She promised to do that if she'd get in office. She said she's going to abolish these monies. So nobody should be surprised, but whose job is it to create jobs in Italy? Everyone wants to point at the guy on the couch and say, hey, man, you're lazy. But there aren't any fucking jobs in Italy. Is it the individual's job to drive economic development for the entire country or Italy, the actual government by building and bringing companies into the country? The thing here is we're always demonizing the person who can't find a fucking job. If you take a look at Naples, it is depressed. It is impoverished, and then we're pointing a finger at somebody and saying, you're lazy.

Chad: It's the government being lazy and not doing their job and actually doing economic development. So we've got to stop demonizing people who can't find a fucking job. That's the biggest key. And we've got Mussolini fans who were loving this. This is something that we see in the US, we see all over the world. We're always pointing at the lazy bastard on the couch, who, to be quite frank, has to work three jobs just to be able to make ends meet. So that's my two cents. I think it's ridiculous. And for a government to be able to point at people and call 'em lazy, the government, Italy in this case is lazy.

Joel: Not to sound like a broken record, but the political side of this, not that it doesn't matter, but Italy has the highest share of people over 65 years of age in the EU. Aging residents and failing birth rates will decrease the population from 54.2 million today to 47.7 million in 2070. Similar to France changing the rules around retirement, Italy has the same tough choice to make and this is probably one of many that they're going to have to do. I do love that if you have children that you still get the benefit, which is basically saying, have more kids so we can help pay for an aging population. Politically, this becomes a strategy to win office. It makes great headlines but the, ultimately the bill is gonna be due on these issues of not having enough money to pay these things that people need. We had one of the...

Joel: One of the politicians made a great point in terms of supporting women. And if you support women, they're more likely to get a job because they feel they have childcare and that they can have that support. Initiatives like that are perfectly fine if the end goal is to get more women in the workforce. I think that's a good thing. But ultimately everyone should take a page out of Portugal's playbook and get more Americans, Canadians, and Brits to come in the country and spend more money and buy more real estate so they can buy more benefits for their populace.

Chad: To create more jobs, I don't care how many women you make feel good about going to work, if there's no fucking work, you can't do anything.

Joel: Well, you need customers to have jobs and if you have a declining population, there's less customers.

Chad: They don't have people coming in to actually create jobs in the first place. That's the problem. You can't get a tax revenue base if you can't actually tax the people off the jobs that they're doing 'cause there aren't any fucking jobs.

Joel: Well, there's a declining number of people.

Chad: Which should make for more job openings. The problem is, Italy's not doing its job and creating economic development.

Joel: But you need consumers to buy the goods that you're selling, those are where the jobs come from. If you have an aging population...

Chad: Where do they get the money?

Joel: 80 year olds don't buy anything, I know 'cause my dad's 84.

Chad: There aren't enough jobs, so if you've got a declining population, you need to bring more jobs to the people so that they can actually get money in their pocket so they can pay for shit.

Joel: Sure.

Chad: If you have more kids and you don't have jobs to be able to drive tax revenue and buy shit, none of that matters.

Joel: Immigration's a whole other point of this as well. I don't know what Italy's immigration policy.

Chad: That's a diversion, but yes.

Joel: If you want more people, you have to have more babies. Let people in, you become Italy in Japan.

Chad: What's the problem right now? Jobs. They're pointing at people that are saying lazy on the couch where there are no fucking jobs. They need jobs first. They don't need more people.

Joel: More Americans. That's the answer, Lieven. What are your thoughts?

Lieven: More Americans.

Chad: Yeah. To spend money.

Lieven: The world needs more Americans. I think there's a very big difference between the north and the south of Italy. If you look at Milano, there are plenty of jobs and it's rich and the economy is booming. The south has always been a problem area. And I do agree with both of you. Definitely, it's at least job to create more jobs definitely in the south and to help those people if you can't find a job, the government needs to take care of you. And this is what's been happening for hundreds of years now. There is only one problem. If the social security is that good in some regions, you probably don't feel the urge to find a job, and there are ways to make some more money without paying taxes. So we call it... I'm not sure if it's called the same in English as (What did he say?) if you don't pay taxes, you work in black in the firm, you probably don't know the expression. I can't translate it literally. But I'm sure many of those people who take money from the government because they are unemployed, also work without paying taxes.

Lieven: And this definitely is the case in the south of Italy. That's one thing. And I feel there should be a big difference between what you could make working and what you get from the government not working. And in those countries, and in the south of Italy, the average income is pretty low. And what they got from the government was high income, if you compare it and then people aren't motivated. What I should do or what I would do, but it's politics, is the moment you lose your job, the first three months you should get a really high allowance because it would allow you to look for a new job, maybe even five months, but then it should go down pretty fast. So you don't have the time to settle down and getting the money from the government and not working at all. For people losing a job, there should be some kind of a net to catch them. But you can't just use the system for years and years. There are jobs definitely even in the south, so people should be motivated to get one. But that's more of a political discussion, I feel.

Joel: Did Lieven say he agreed with both of us?

Lieven: Yes is because I'm very diplomatic.

Chad: Very European, but what I heard from you there Lieven was if there needs to be greater wages as well, the wages need to increase.

Lieven: Yeah, of course.

Chad: There are many different layers to this onion. But at the end of the day, you're right, there are pockets of Italy that are impoverished, you just can't find a job. But then there are other areas, I mean, there's no reason that they can't treat those differently, right?

Lieven: And you are talking about migration in the '50s and '60s, after last century. So many Italian people came, for example, to Belgium to work in the coal mines because Italy was really poor, and those people were invited to come to work in Belgium and in Netherlands and Germany and work in the mining industry, which was a terrible job but it paid pretty good. But then when those mines closed, closed down, then those people were unemployed in Belgium as well, it's still something which isn't totally solved even in Italy.

Joel: Keep hope alive Europe, because team Sowash is eventually gonna be back in Portugal, spending lots and lots of money.

Lieven: Tons.

Joel: Guys, this was intense, but I loved it as usual, we out.

Chad: We out.

Lieven: We out.

Outro: Wow, look at you. You made it through an entire episode of the Chad and Cheese Podcast or maybe you cheated and fast forward it to the end. Either way, there's no doubt you wish you had that time back, valuable time you could've used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell, enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey or just watch big booty Latinas and bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckle heads instead. Now, go take a shower and wash off all the guilt, but save some soap because you'll be back. Like an awful train wreck, you can't look away and like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either, we out.

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