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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Recruitment industry contributes £43bn to UK economy – latest REC industry report

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The recruitment and staffing industry contributed £42.9 billion of direct Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy in 2021. This marked a 21.7% increase on 2020 and a rise on pre-pandemic levels. 

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s latest Recruitment Industry Status report (RISR) demonstrates the huge role recruitment and staffing firms have played in driving the recovery for firms and workers, with 22.4 million temporary or contract placements and 540,000 permanent placements made in 2021.

REC Chief Executive, Neil Carberry, said:

 “The robust recovery that recruitment and staffing has enjoyed since the pandemic has been driven by meeting client and candidate needs. With an unpredictable economic outlook, but severe shortages of labour, it has never been more important for businesses to work with recruiters who are able to offer the advice they need to shape a winning offer."

"In addition to the almost £43 bn of direct value added to the economy, getting the "people stuff" right helps employers to unlock additional productivity and growth, as REC work has shown.[1]   Looking forward, recruiters with the right product mix, ability to supply good candidates well, and advisory capacity can expect to have a positive year in 2023.

Other key findings of today's Recruitment Industry Status Report include:

  • The sector, and related industries, employed over 200,000 people in more than 30,000 businesses in 2021, 6.5% higher than the previous year.
  • The RISR report also uses its data to forecast the outlook for the industry for the rest of the year and beyond. The number of staff employed in recruitment activities is set to grow by 6.9% in 2022 compared to 2021, helping to drive the growth of the UK economy.
  • Client volumes are set to grow by 14.3% and fees are also increasing by 7.4% compared to 2021. The recruitment sector’s contribution to the UK economy is also set to eclipse £51.3 billion by 2025, and we can expect roughly 6% growth after 2022.




Notes to editors

The industry-wide figures in the REC’s UK recruitment industry status report 2021/22 were calculated using: 

  • Data drawn from an in-depth survey of 172 REC members, conducted between 31st August and 7th October 2022.
  • ONS data from:
    • the UK Business Counts register.
    • the Annual Business Survey.
    • the Index of Services time series.
  • Data drawn from the REC's Jobs Outlook, based on a rolling quarterly survey of 600 employers/HR decision-makers conducted between 11th March 2016 and 29th September 2022 by Savanta ComRes. 

For more information and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.