Recruitment Sector Continues to Bounce Back

Back in March I mentioned the positive recruitment trends APSCo was reporting one year on from the start of the pandemic. At the time, we had seen a spike in hiring, with vacancies in February up 24.6% for contract and 14.6% for permanent when compared to November 2020. This positive trend has continued – and recruiters are once again reaping the rewards.

Vacancies Spike Again

As we continue to track the trends across the professional recruitment sector, the latest data from growth analytics experts, cube19, showed massive spikes in year-on-year vacancy and placement figures. According to the May edition of the Recruitment Trends Snapshot report, permanent vacancies were up 90% year-on-year in April. Contract roles reported a similar spike, up 83% between April 2020 and 2021.

However, perhaps more encouragingly for staffing companies, placements are also improving at similar rates annually. Permanent placement numbers were up 82% when compared to April 2020, while contract assignments rose 68% for the same period. It’s important to add that these spikes were perhaps to be expected given the drops in the levels of business this time last year. However, it does show that employers are continuing to see the importance of the professional recruitment sector as partners in their plans to upskill for the recovery. This is also borne out by the rise in sales revenue from placements for the recruitment sector which was up 97% year-on-year for permanent roles and 64% for contract.

And while the April data showed a slight month-on-month dip, this was to be expected after the initial flurry of activity in March – a common trend as we approached both the end of the tax year and many organizations’ year ends as headcount budgets expired.

As Joe McGuire, chief revenue officer at cube19 commented in the report: “The YoY trends pre-pandemic show that the numbers in April tend to be slightly down on March. That said, April continued to show positive signs in the recovery and with further easing of restrictions in May paired with strong growth projections for the rest of the year, we hope to see this continue.”

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Recruitment Sector Value Growing

This data points very clearly to the ongoing value of the recruitment sector to the economy as organizations look for help to find the right skill sets. While the last year has been very tough on business and there has undoubtedly been redundancies, the annual increases in vacancies show that while there may be more candidates on the market, professional sectors still have niche skill shortages, and our profession will continue to be a sought-after expert partner to help source those skills.

This dearth of resources will only be exacerbated by the impact of both Brexit and the roll out of IR35, the impact of  which has yet to be fully revealed due to the pandemic. But the cracks are beginning to appear, particularly for those sectors which have previously relied on European and contingent talent. We’ve already seen reports of hospitality and retail struggling with staff shortages as they attempt to rapidly re-open, for example.

For high-demand and low-supply professional roles across the likes of IT and digital, we’re also already seeing a surge in vacancies. Recent data from business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft revealed that professional IT vacancies surged 71.7% in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the same period last year. While this is good news for staffing companies that service this sector, finding enough candidates to fill these roles has been a challenge for some time now. A challenge that will only be exacerbated in a post-Brexit and post-IR35 environment.

As the impact of these skills shortages plays out, we expect more employers to continue to see just how valuable expert recruiters are to their business – positive news for staffing companies following a difficult year. APSCo will continue to track employment trends as we emerge from the pandemic and will keep its members and the hiring community up-to-date as we look to get back on track.

Ann Swain

Ann Swain
Ann Swain is global CEO of APSCo, an international trade body representing the professional recruitment sector in the UK, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

Ann Swain

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