Top 10 Industries

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Employment placement agencies

This sector continues to grow driven by the growth of contract work, while employers seek experience over potential.

Key insights

The UK’s recruitment sector has experienced an unprecedented boom since the turn of the millennium, with the number of recruitment businesses growing from 5,990 to 15,585 (a 160% increase) between 2010 and 2017.

And there’s little sign of any significant slowdown, with the ONS reporting a 14% increase in the number of businesses over 2014-15.

2016 was another strong year for the industry, with 9% growth, and recruitment is now worth £35.1bn to the economy. Over three quarters of this growth came from contract employment, with accounting, finance and heavy industry the strongest sectors.

The “gig economy” presents fresh challenges for the sector, with highly skilled workers in sectors such as advertising and public administration lured in ever greater numbers by the financial incentives offered by contract work, despite the preference of employers for making permanent hires.

Employment placement infographic

What does the future hold?

Challenges facing the recruitment industry over the short to medium term include automation based on advances in machine-learning and artificial intelligence, and increasingly fierce competition for talent.

With 79% of recruitment firms reporting an increase in net fee income in 2015-16, the recruitment sector is well placed to adapt and prosper, while employers will need to offer flexible benefits to attract and retain the experienced, qualified candidates they seek.

For further information on the sourced references for the Business Trends data, outside of the Business Population Estimates 2016 and Nomis official labour market statistics 2010 and 2017, please download the information here (PDF, 240MB)