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Recruitment Industry Trends 2016 - 2017


The recruitment industry continues to be extremely valuable to the UK economy, with £32 billion of annual revenue and employing over 100,000 people. Recruiters provide a vital service, not only to clients making use of a recruiter’s expertise in matching candidates to roles, but also to jobseekers, for whom their choice of job and employer can be one of life’s biggest decisions.
This means the people expertise that recruiters provide is critical, and not just for permanent roles. Temporary work alone continues to provide essential flexibility to people and employers – on any given day there are 1.3 million people on the payroll as agency workers.

  • Total industry turnover, including the activities of those
    providing other HR services, as well as permanent and
    temporary/recruitment, was £32.2 billion in 2016/17.
  • £28.2 billion (87.6 per cent industry turnover) was achieved
    through temporary/contract placement activity, while
    approximately £4.0 billion (12.4 per cent) was generated
    through permanent placements.
  • The recruitment and HR service industry, including organisations
    providing managed service programmes (MSPs), recruitment
    process outsourcing (RPO) services and additional supply
    chain partners, made almost 1 million permanent placements
    in 2016/17.
  • The average number of temporary/contract workers on
    the industry’s payroll on any one given day in 2016/17 was
    1.3 million. The proportion on assignment on any one given
    day was 1.1 million (86 per cent).
  • Six in ten (61 per cent) temporary assignments were for
    12+ weeks, while one in five (20 per cent) were for 6+ months.
    Just 1 per cent of placements were for 52 weeks or more.
    The mean assignment length was 17 weeks.
  • Eight in ten (80 per cent) contract placements were for
    12+ weeks, with over two in five (44 per cent) being for
    a duration of 6+ months. One in six (16 per cent) assignments
    were for 52+ weeks. The mean contract length was 23 weeks
    and one day.
  • The average turnover per permanent placement was £3,984.
  • The average annualised turnover per temporary/contract worker was £21,953.
  • The total number of staff employed in the recruitment industry exceeded 100,000.
  • In line with the general consensus, the REC forecast for the next three years remains positive. We forecast that the turnover of the industry will grow by between 1.8 per cent and 5.8 per cent in 2017/18, between 1.6 per cent and 5.6 per cent in 2018/19 and between 0.7 per cent and 4.7 per cent in 2019/20.

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