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The UK recruitment industry is growing rapidly

The UK recruitment industry shows no signs of slowing down. Having grown consistently since 2010, it is continuing its reputation as a leading industry in the UK.

To bring some context to these statements, we’ve taken a look back over last year to highlight the ways in which the UK Recruitment industry has progressed significantly.


How fast has the UK recruitment industry grown?

In 2017 alone, Companies House recorded the launch of 5,824 new recruitment businesses, which was a 20% increase on the previous year.

The following statistics were also recorded, further highlighting just how successful the Recruitment industry has been to date:

  • There has been an average 21% YOY growth in the number of UK recruitment business
  • When you compare five year periods (e.g. 2013/17 vs. 2008/12), there is growth of 198%
  • Contract and temp work saw an increase in value of 6%, going from £26.7 billion in 2015/16 to £28.2 billion in 2016/17

Since 1971, employment rates in the UK have slowly improved. And recently, they have been on a continuous incline. This graph, created by The Office of National Statistics, highlights the increase we have seen since 2010:

UK recruitment industry is growing rapidly (ONS)


Self-employment and the UK recruitment industry

Self-employment played a key part in this growth, with 2017 showing record levels of people choosing this way of working. The ONS Labour Market Statistics showed that 15% of the working population were self-employed. In numbers, that’s an impressive 4.88 million people.

To add to this, between August and October alone, the number of self-employed people increased by 50,000 to 4.81 million. That works out at 15% of all people in work.

What’s more, the number of people who choose this way of working has increased by over 47%, highlighting how attractive self-employment is.


So what’s the future of the UK recruitment industry looking like?

Despite an extremely volatile political and economic climate, the UK Recruitment industries saw a total revenue of £32.2 billion in 2017. The vast majority of this was achieved through temporary and contract recruitment. It contributed to 87.6% of that figure (£28.2 billion), compared to the 12.4% (£4 billion) generated through permanent placements.

Recent research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reveals that 67% of UK staffing agencies are forecasting an increase in revenue of 60%, compared to 2017. The research also predicted that the number of contract recruitment businesses will grow to 17%.

In five years…

When we sat down with Toby Babb, the CEO of Harrington Starr, we asked him what patterns or trends he thought we might see in the UK Recruitment industry over the next five years.

“What’s obvious is that there will be more technology in recruitment, that’s for sure. We’re always considering how we can use data, technology and artificial intelligence to make better decisions for our customers. I also think we will see the industry lean more and more towards RPO. I think recruiters will need to increase their true consultancy offering and be faster, better and stronger.

I think recruitment over the next five years will continue to thrive as a professional industry. We’re going to have to be better with technology, have proper market experience and there will be more social recruitment and digital techniques that come through that people will need to adapt to.”

Industries expected to experience growth in 2018:

  • The UK Space industry is expected to create 100,000 new jobs and bring with it £40 billion in turnover.
  • Cyber security will be a dominating market this year, following several high-profile cyber attacks. Much of the research done into this industry has found that businesses are investing more money from their budgets into cyber security, and demand for roles in cyber security will increase this year.
  • The Creative industries is now one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, and it continues to outperform the other industries. The sector is now worth over £92 billion and it’s growing at twice the rate of the economy.

If you’re considering joining the UK recruitment industry…

If you are were considering launching your own recruitment business, now is the time to do it. Advances in digitalisation and a more dynamic UK job market is making it easier and more accessible than ever to set up a business. 72% of the UK’s recruitment business were registered as active in 2010.

With the predictions of another wave of new agencies launching this year, the competition will get stiffer. Luckily, to combat this, the amount of resources and support available to help you has also increased – and it’s the smart recruitment agencies who will take advantage of these.

As the UK’s leading provider of finance and technology to recruitment businesses, Sonovate is best placed to support and guide new and established businesses.

This article was published 9th January, 2018.

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