Recruitment survey shows drop in annual turnover

November 11, 2009
Lizzie Syddall

Turnover in the UK’s recruitment industry has fallen by nearly 17% in the past year, according to the 2009 annual industry report launched today [Tuesday 3 November] by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) in association with the Recruitment Finance Division of Lloyds TSB Commercial.

The Recruitment Industry Trends Survey shows a contraction of the industry from a record high of £27bn last year to a low of £22.491bn – a 16.8% reduction between April 2008 and March 2009.

Most significant of the trends has been in permanent placements, which shrunk 39% from £4.275bn in 2007/08 to £2.608bn last year. At the same time, the temp business turnover took a tumble from £22.730bn in 2007/08 to £19.882 in 2008/09, a decrease of 12.6%.

Permanent recruitment volumes were hardest hit, declining nearly 20% (19.8%) over the year, from 726,863 to 582,803.

The number of temporary/contract workers declined over the period from 1,220,310 to 1,068,197 – a sharp fall of 12.4%. The shift was felt most acutely by single-site agencies which make up the bulk of the industry.

Also, during the year, the number of staff employed in the recruitment sector fell by more than 10% from 108,883 to 95,865.

Other findings included:

– The shifting values of permanent and temporary recruitment over the year has lifted the temporary share of the market to 88.4% compared to 84.2% last year – its highest for some time and a 5% rise on the year. The permanent market now accounts for 11.6% of the total share compared to 15.8% last year.

– The largest number of permanent placements was accounting and financial with 22% of the market share followed by professional and managerial at 21% then technical and engineering at 14%.

– The largest number of temporary placements was again in the industrial and blue collar sector with a significant rise to 33% of the market followed by accounting and financial at 20% then nursing, medical and care at 16%.

Kevin Green, the REC’s chief executive, says: “This significant contraction of the UK’s recruitment industry comes as no surprise because it is inextricably linked to the national economy. However, it has been an opportunity for professional recruiters to clearly demonstrate their true value to their clients.

“These figures, while showing the market is smaller, highlights that there are still opportunities. More than 1m temporary workers are still on assignment every week. This has enabled the UK jobs market to remain more flexible than its international competitors and avoided unemployment being as high as in the US.”

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