Our history

How the REC began:

Stretching back almost a century, the REC has a long record of championing the power of jobs to transform people’s lives.

Following the 'Great Depression', placing workers into employment became not just a government priority, but a UK necessity.

After embryonic growth, by 1930 market, legislative and economic factors led a group of like-minded, dedicated employment agencies to come together and form the first recognised recruitment industry trade body, LEAF – the London Employment Agencies Federation. This is the REC’s heritage.

The idea behind LEAF was recruiters coming together, helping to get people into work and to safeguard the labour market. LEAF took an oak leaf as its emblem.

Gradually LEAF extended membership beyond London and the organisation changed its name to EAF – the Employment Agencies Federation – when it became a national organisation. 

In 1960 the EAF appointed Major Donald Cropper as its first General Secretary. He established regional activities and started campaigning on behalf of the industry.

In 1972 the Federation incorporated as the Federation of Personnel Services of Great Britain.

In 1984 the Federation changed its name to the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services (FRES).

The recruitment industry experienced rapid growth in the 1990s and into the twenty-first century. Overall industry revenue increased from £3bn in 1993 to £27bn in 2007-8 before the recession hit in 2008. Membership of the FRES dramatically increased around this time as well.


In 1963 the Institute of Employment Consultants (IEC) was established as ‘a voluntary association of individuals from the employment consultancy profession’.

Its purpose was to enhance the knowledge, skills and reputation of its members and it gained charitable status for the purposes of education.

Becoming the REC:

Increasing co-operation between the FRES and the IEC led to a merger in 2000 and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) was born. At this time the UK recruitment industry was worth £24bn.

The REC is the largest trade body within the UK recruitment industry.

Some of the REC's key activities and offerings for members are:

Kevin Green was the REC’s chief executive between 2008-2018. During his tenure, Kevin and his senior team launched a number of key initiatives, which have helped set standards and drive professionalism so that the UK recruitment industry is respected at home, in Europe and worldwide: 

In June 2018, Neil Carberry became chief executive of the REC. Neil began his career in recruitment, working for financial services firms for a small search firm before doing a post-graduate degree in Human Resources at the LSE and joining the CBI in 2004. Neil was a managing director at the CBI, leading its work on the labour market, skills, energy and infrastructure. He was also integral to delivering a range of change programmes and improving member services. 


Jobs transform lives, which is why the REC is focused on building the best recruitment industry in the world. As the professional body for recruitment it is absolutely committed in this pursuit for recruiters, employers, and the people they hire.

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