UK’s £32.2 billion recruitment industry helped millions of people find work in 2016/17

Filed under Press release

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


Recruiters helped almost a million people find a new permanent job in 2016/17 and on any given day are responsible for 1.3 million agency workers in the UK labour market, says new data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) published today.

Total revenue from permanent and temporary placements reached £32.2 billion for an industry that continues to employ over 100,000 people itself. £28.2 billion was generated from temporary placements while approximately £4.0 billion was generated through permanent placements. 

Other headline statistics from the 2016/17 report include:


  • The average length of a temporary agency worker assignment was 17 weeks, while only 1 per cent of assignments lasted 52 weeks or more. 
  • 47 per cent of agencies in permanent recruitment made margins of 15 to 19 per cent, with an additional 12 per cent securing fees of 20 to 24 per cent.
  • 31 per cent of agencies made margins of 15 to 19 per cent on temporary placements, with a further 12 per cent securing 20 to 24 per cent and 15 per cent achieving 25 per cent or more.
  • Agencies active in the permanent market averaged 12.3 permanent placements per employee annually.
  • Agencies operating in the temporary market averaged £380,792 in annual temporary/contract sales per employee in 2016/17.

This year’s edition of the REC’s Recruitment industry trends report also includes a forecast for above GDP growth for the industry over the next three years: 3.8 per cent in 2017/18, 3.6 per cent in 2018/19 and 2.7 per cent in 2019/20.

Commenting on this latest snapshot of the UK recruitment industry REC chief executive Kevin Green says:

“We know that jobs transform lives and that recruiters work incredibly hard every day to help people find the position or assignment that’s right for them. Our data show that as candidate availability declines more and more businesses are turning to agencies to help them source the talent they need. 

Our industry has weathered difficult times before – it survived the serious hit of the financial crisis a decade ago to become stronger than ever. Whatever the next few years holds, I am confident that recruiters will use their drive and ingenuity to ensure they stay successful and make good matches between individuals looking for work and employers who need high quality staff.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Recruitment industry trends is available for REC members to download for free from It is available for sale to non REC members for £500 +VAT.
  2. This year, in addition to placements made by recruitment agencies Recruitment industry trends also accounts for organisations providing managed service programmes (MSPs) and recruitment process outsourcing services (RPOs). This means data is not directly comparable to previous years.
  3. Market-wide estimates for this annual industry snapshot have been calculated by
  4. the REC using data drawn from the survey of members conducted by ComRes and data from the ONS Inter-Departmental Business Register. ComRes interviewed 209 recruitment firms online between 28th July and 2nd
  5. October 2017. Data were weighted by size and region to be representative of all
  6. recruitment agencies in the UK.

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