The UK recruitment industry continued to grow at a rapid rate in 2019, according to official government data. One source estimates that 8,546 recruitment businesses were established across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The astonishing data was collated by recruitment finance technology entrepreneurs Sonovate, using publicly-available information from Companies House.
The figures detail a sharp increase in the rate of enterprise creation compared to a decade earlier. In 2010, 2,556 recruitment enterprises were registered at Companies House. The 2019 figures represent a 230 per cent (230%) increase in the rate of expansion.
But is this credible data? If we were to consider only companies that are demonstrably active in the recruitment sector, then the answer is “probably not”. By comparison, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) end-of-year report found 31,140 firms operating in the UK last year. This represents a 2 per cent increase in the space of twelve months. This works out as a more modest 611 new enterprises. Even if we dismiss the headline-grabbing high figures, the more sober estimates will still present a challenging year ahead for existing agencies.
Data hints at increased competition; leaner margins
The data perhaps reflects the growing pressure among employers to source skills and job leads. 2019 saw employment reach new heights – while unemployment rates matched historical all-time low levels.
Although job creation has been enjoyed across the board, a handful of industries have dominated the hiring demand. Healthcare, IT and education were the top three skills seekers of the last twelve months. As a consequence, these industries claimed the top spots in terms of specialist recruiters setting up business in 2019.
There were strong regional factors in the findings, too. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London and the South East of England saw the fastest increase in business creation. The trend for wealth and job concentration around the capital is a long-established one. However, there is some evidence that the jobs market is improving when it comes to decentralisation. The second fastest growing region was Birmingham. Leicester and Manchester occupied the next spots – perhaps revealing a move to the north for some of the nation’s top employers.
The UK has long been recognised as among the most competitive recruitment markets in the world. The pace of growth in 2019 suggests that, while there is increased demand, there is also increasing competitiveness, too.