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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Welcome to 2022

Advice for employers

Neil  Carberry avatar

Written by Neil Carberry Chief executive

I hope you and your loved ones managed to have a relaxing, happy and (hopefully) healthy Christmas and New Year break.

It would be all too easy to draw parallels with last January as we look forward to 2022 - the pandemic is still with us, and likely to exert an influence on the market through at least the first quarter of the year.

But these parallels ignore two important differences. Firstly, while rules vary in the different nations of the UK, we are not facing the kind of lockdowns we saw last Spring, thanks to vaccinations. And secondly, the market today is radically different to this time last year. Because 2021 was a year of recovery for recruiters.

Our Recruitment Industry Status Report was published shortly before Christmas and gave the readout on the pandemic impact to date. In 2020, the UK permanent recruitment market contracted by 55% but the temporary market held steady, bouncing back quickly from a March slump and nearly matching 2019 performance. While the picture in different sectors varied, a lot of this strength came from temporary workers underpinning key food supply chains, the digital sector and healthcare.

If 2020 highlighted the resilience of our industry, 2021 showcased adaptability - and how important it will be to client competitiveness in years to come. In early 2021, we saw a big bounce back - with a 16% uplift in permanent placements and a further 7% increase for temps in the first half of the year alone. And throughout the autumn, REC surveys were showing further, even faster growth. A supercharged recovery - and one which brings with it new challenges and opportunities in 2022!

From our big picture work - like being the leading voice on labour shortages affecting firms - to practical wins, like the post-Christmas news of permanent digital right to work checking, the REC is here to help you navigate new opportunities that have been created by this restructured labour market. At our awards at the end of November, Employment Minister Mims Davies praised recruiters and asked us to be engines of change. That's a task we have taken to with gusto at the REC!

In the autumn, we produced three business guides to support REC members no matter where you are in your business journey - whether starting a new venture, looking to accelerate growth or looking for your next transaction. There is more to come this year. Our aim is to provide you with the strategic insight and business thinking that gives you a head start.

There is more analysis, thought leadership and jobs data to help you and your clients make decisions on its way in 2022, including advice on issues like technology for recruitment firms and making progress on diversity and inclusion. Our recent work on AI and recruitment with the CDEI is one example of this. We will also focus on the development you and your team need to be future-fit, through our new REC Academy training suite.

Importantly, we'll still be out there speaking up for you every day. Recruiters make great work happen by helping clients to grow and helping candidates to find new opportunities. Our work in 2022 will not only speak to vital issues with Government - like skills, immigration, taxation and umbrella company regulation - but to clients.

Our Recruitment for Recovery campaign has echoed around the jobs market, and more and more members tell me that clients are starting to see recruitment differently - a key workforce planning and delivery partner, not a transactional service. We want to build on this in 2022 with your support - from the NHS, to schools, to key construction, engineering and IT roles, to logistics and our food supply chain, REC members are making a difference in every part of the UK economy.

And the need for that difference will be greater than ever this year. Rising inflation on pay and other input costs, as well as labour shortages, will mean that many firms will be looking to restructure how they plan for workforce needs and staff engagement by the second half of this year.

The advice they need to do it well is out there - it comes from you.  Those firms who understand the big picture commercial pressures their clients are facing in this new world, who can structure their offer in the right way, and who can access new pools of candidates will be the ones who prosper. The REC is here to help you do just that.  As always, do get in touch with me or any of our team when you need us - the REC is your organisation, here to help you grow.

All that it remains for me to say is Happy New Year! I hope 2022 is a prosperous one for you and your business. Please feel free to drop me a line at any time - - with your feedback or ideas.

All best to you and your business for the year ahead!