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The UK’s recruitment landscape has undergone a dynamic transformation in 2023, marked by fluctuating market conditions and evolving employer and candidate expectations. Today, we’ll delve into key trends shaping the industry and draw comparisons between national statistics and our own experiences as a recruitment business.

According to statistics reported by the REC, the recruitment industry contributed £41.3 billion to the UK economy in the 2022/23 financial year, which is attributed to:

  • £33.9 billion (82%) Temporary/contract placements
  • £7.4 billion (18%) Permanent placements

This closely mirrors our own experiences in the local economy as employers cautiously favoured temporary workers over permanent appointments. Recruitment businesses were responsible for almost 1 million temporary workers on assignment in the UK on any given day.

Breakdown by sector

By comparison, we’ve noticed a slight dip in temporary recruitment this year as inflation fears gripped many of our clients. Cost-cutting slowed hiring across multiple sectors, but industrial recruitment defied the trend with a 5% increase, and hospitality saw a modest increase as employers leaned on us to fill positions they might traditionally have filled internally. Permanent recruitment, unfortunately, continues to languish under the weight of rising interest rates, which mirrors the national picture. Other sectors we specialise in such as driving and healthcare remain steady, whilst factory and warehousing remain strong, a trend we expect to continue in to 2024.

Candidate motivations

In a candidate led market, it’s no surprise that applicant expectations remain higher than we have experienced before. Driven by the cost-of-living crisis and further fuelled by the sheer number of vacancies available, it’s unsurprising that candidates are demanding higher wages, better benefits such as increased holiday, pension, and healthcare as well as more flexibility to work less hours, fitted around their preferred lifestyle.

Our perspective

24-7 Staffing are at the coalface of these demands and recognise that hirers who are not prepared to move with the times to accommodate these fresh demands and make their offering more appealing to the modern workforce, are not likely to succeed at hiring the best talent in a competitive market.

However, in these times of high inflation and increasing costs, it’s understandable that employers are working to tighter margins and having to find ways to cut their cloth leaner, a trend that is set to continue through most of 2024, but can you afford not to keep up with recruitment trends when effective people form the backbone of any successful business?

We would also advise exploring your company culture too, this is a powerful recruitment tool which can be a recruitment turn off, as applicants report that the way they are treated at work closely shadows remuneration when choosing a new employer. Many cultural modifications are free or cheap to implement, making cultural shift a cost-effective recruitment tool.

We’re always happy to offer our expertise and insights to enable our clients to benchmark their offering to attract and retain local talent to strengthen their business.

The year ahead

There’s no doubt that the recruitment boom of 2021 is well and truly in the rear-view mirror, however, the temporary recruitment market remains resilient despite economic fluctuations from businesses focusing on short term workforce decisions, driven by continued uncertainties with high inflation set to remain, increased operational costs, margins being squeezed and a general election on the horizon.

However, the outlook for 2025 is far more optimistic so employers would be wise to get the right people in place over the coming year to position themselves to fully embrace the opportunities 2025 will bring.