North America – a Niche Recruitment Growth Opportunity

North America – a Niche Recruitment Growth Opportunity

As the domestic recruitment market becomes challenging for many UK businesses and our relationship with mainland Europe remains uncertain, we’ve seen more recruitment companies looking to expand internationally.

Asia and the Gulf States have become popular markets to explore, with Dubai a common first step for many in the Energy, Finance, Aviation, Aerospace and Technology sectors. Increasingly though, UK recruitment businesses are looking westwards towards North America.

North American Economy

The US economy has typically had annualised growth rates of 3.2% over the past 40 years and suffered from critical skill shortages for some time. Despite the recent upheavals on Wall Street, the U.S. economy is predicted to grow in 2019 at 3.7% according to the IMF. The UK niche recruiter models are ideally set up to exploit these opportunities, so why has there been reluctance?

Traditionally, this has been a tough market to crack for UK Recruiters due to expensive start up costs to establish U.S. operations and the complex legal and compliance systems. Unlike the UK, in the U.S. there is a three-tiered legal structure of Federal, State and Municipal Laws. The risk associated with this can be difficult to navigate, and many a UK recruiter has fallen foul of this intricate maelstrom of legislation.

Companies who successfully overcome these challenges and have plunged straight in and opened a U.S. office have had mixed fortunes. Several have experienced the combination of high operating costs and slow market penetration becoming too much of a burden on their UK business and have been forced to withdraw.

The costs of getting it wrong have been huge for some businesses. In addition to the federal, state and municipal tax challenges, there are also repercussions should you “misclassify” your workers as happened with FedEx in 2016 costing them $240m in 20 states.

How can you make it work?

In 1989, I was charged with opening a North of England office from an attic office in Bristol. Economically, the UK was diving into a recession. Working with a team of two recruiters we were successful in securing 50+ technology contractors from our southern base and on 28th January 1992 we opened our office in Knutsford, Cheshire. We were profitable from day one and expanded to bigger and greater things. Both of my start-up recruiters went on to become industry top billers and COOs.

Today the same model is being employed by several of our UK recruiter clients by establishing a North American team that targets the US & Canadian market from a UK base. Most operate U.S. Eastern Time hours from their UK offices starting work at 12-noon (GMT) and finishing around 8pm (GMT).

Those that do succeed all tend to make the expansion on the back of established relationships, which they have serviced, initially from the UK, before crossing the Atlantic. This is the path I exploited in the early noughties when I successfully led Hays IT’s expansion into mainland Europe, working with clients such as EDS, Hewlett Packard, Lloyds Banking Group, BT, Compaq, BAE Systems and many more.

Precision Global Consulting

One thing several of our successful clients all have in common is they use the services of Precision Global Consulting. (PGC).

PGC is a workforce management platform. They employ a workforce on their client’s behalf and take on the legal responsibility for those workers and making sure back office processes run like clockwork by offer a number of expert solutions;

  • Payroll and Tax Management (Federal, State & municipal, Overtime payments)
  • Contractor/Worker On-boarding in all 50 US states
  • Workplace Insurance
  • Healthcare Plan (ObamaCare Compliant, Paid Sick Leave)
  • Termination Management (all compensation and unemployment claims)
  • Compliance Management (Visas, I-9s, Business Insurances)

All of which allows your typical UK recruiter to focus on finding the contractor and totally servicing their clients talent needs.

The availability of ‘WeWork’ style co-working offices both stateside and globally has seen the cost of the traditional office set-up also reduce. Often, many of the start-up tenants become clients as well.

US Opportunity

The U.S. economy is expanding and is struggling to find the skills it needs to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the U.S. economy will need 100,000 new IT workers a year over the next decade and currently only 60,000 are entering the workforce each year.

In addition “boomers” leaving the workforce each day mean there are 3.5m new manufacturing jobs to be filled by 2025 and currently there is likely to be a 2m shortfall of jobs filled.

At present Pfizer, Boeing and Amazon are all struggling to find qualified workers and experts say they will increasingly be forced to look overseas for high-skilled workers.

Canadian Opportunity

In Canada the situation is no different. The Association of College Communities of Canada (ACCC) reports that Canada requires 260,000 construction workers over the next eight years and the Canadian Federation of Independent businesses report that there are over 300,000 job vacancies that have been vacant for four months or more. The list of high demand jobs in Canada includes all of those in the US but also Registered Nurses, Truck Drivers, Welders, Aerospace engineers, Software and Design Engineers, Pilots and Pharmacists to name just a few.

For most UK Recruiters, global expansion is now more than a dream, it is a real opportunity that might be worth considering, especially given the challenges Brexit may bring.

To find out more call either ourselves on (0370) 8790 105 or PGC if you’d like to find out more about managing workers across the U.S. and Canada at [email protected].

Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2019

Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2019

We are now into our sixth year of this blog series since first writing our amazingly popular blog post Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years. With over 25,000 views this remains our most popular blog post ever.

Our annual blog has become almost as popular and with huge uncertainty in the UK, Europe and Globally we expect this year to be no different

In 2012/3 when we made our prediction for Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years the top five were:

  1. Information Technology
  2. Engineering
  3. Energy, Oil and Gas
  4. Healthcare
  5. Emerging Technology application

We think it is safe to say that anyone who went into these sectors in 2013 would be very happy with their decision. Only Oil and Gas in the energy sector has seen any major issues with “renewables” now becoming the major area for growth in this sector.

UK and Global Economic Dynamics

As with previous years it’s important for us to outline the economic climate we are basing our predictions on. With the UK less than thirteen weeks away from leaving the EU and with no certainty of the agreed route of exit, or even if Brexit will actually happen, the future is very uncertain.

Remarkably the UK economy is proving highly resilient and GDP growth this year is still projected to be 1.2%. We believe that once the Brexit future becomes clearer we will see growth return to 1.6-1.9% later this year, as We see companies currently holding off investment until the medium term future become clearer.

In the EU growth in Q3 of 2018 in Germany and France surprisingly started to falter though still above the UK.

In the US and the rest of the world uncertainty remains over trade with China which has seen some economic slowdown in both Asia and America. We believe that despite Trump’s confrontational style of negotiating a deal will be done and we will see growth in these regions return. The IMF currently predict the US GDP will grow 2.6% and China’s GDP 6.2% in 2019.

For more details check this article from the Guardian Newspaper UK economic growth tipped to be slowest in Europe next year

Global Recruitment Thought Leaders

This year we have launched Global Recruitment Thought Leaders (GRTL) which is an original initiative that investigates the future of work and the future of talent recruitment.

The GRTL project is pioneered by myself, a global influencer, business expert, employment futurist and owner of growth consultancy Selling Success; and San Sunner, the founder of REC- Social, a social media management company that focuses exclusively on the talent recruitment sector.

The world of work as we know it is being transformed by the exponential growth of revolutionary technology and considerable shifts in workforce demographics. In order to remain competitive in this modern era businesses need to remodel their company culture and approaches to leadership, implement contemporary tools, and foster environments that keep up with the times and create value. As a result, business leaders and their recruitment partners face considerable challenges adjusting to this future reality.

GRTL sets out to explore the new paradigm and dissect its impact on the future talent landscape through in-depth discussions with industry leaders across a variety of sectors. The purpose is constructive debates, informative interviews and knowledge sharing with global thought leaders will provide an innovative hub for business owners to assimilate fresh ideas in preparation for the future.

As a Top 10 Global Influencer our MD, Ian Knowlson is very optimistic about what the future holds explaining that “technological advancements possess the potential to help us solve many of the major issues facing mankind in the twenty-first century such as cheap sustainable energy, global skill shortages, an aging population, food and water security, inequality, lack of economic and employment opportunity and climate change.”

With speculation about automation and artificial intelligence rendering people as inadequate for work in the future, business leaders need to take ownership of the narrative and be clearer in terms of their communication about prospective plans and objectives.

The introduction of the GRTL video series delivers a knowledge base that helps all business stakeholders to understand and adapt to the changing landscape, while firmly positioning themselves for long term success!

To find out more information about Global Recruitment Thought Leaders and journey into the future world of work and talent recruitment visit

Top five sectors for high growth in 2019

No5 Construction

For 2019 we have placed the construction sector below the level we would typically rank it due to Brexit uncertainty, but it is still in a healthy state and represents a great sector for recruiters.

There remains a huge shortage of skilled trades people such as bricklayers, electricians and scaffolders to name but three; and in the professional/technical niches quantity surveyors remains one of the hardest skills to source in the UK across all recruitment sectors.

These skill shortages are expected to continue well into the next decade so the medium to long-term outlook for the sector is healthy. In 2018 the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)

reported that the industry will need to find 157,000 new recruits by 2021 in order to keep up with demand. A forecast also in 2018 from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) revealed that over 150,000 construction jobs are set to be created over the next five years, with 15,350 carpenters and 9,350 labourers needed. There will also be a significant growth in a range of professional and managerial roles.

The recent IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index published in January 2019 indicated “An expected boost from transport and energy projects underpinned a rise in business optimism to an eight-month high in December. Construction sector confidence was also helped by softer input cost inflation and signs of a turnaround in supply chain difficulties from the low point seen last August.”

Tim Moore, economics associate director at IHS Markit, is on record as saying, “levels of optimism remained subdued in relation to those recorded by the survey over much of the past six years, largely reflecting concerns that Brexit uncertainty will continue to encourage delays with decision-making, especially on commercial projects.”

It’s fair to say that but for Brexit we would have ranked this as third in out of the top five sectors for growth this year and it still may end up there if the Brexit issues resolve themselves quickly.

No4 Healthcare

With an ageing population across most of the industrialised world healthcare recruitment is tipped to be one of the top five recruitment sectors for the next decade or so.

The announcement this year of the UK government’s 10-year investment plan of an extra £20b a year by 2023 for the NHS will not immediately flow through to staffing. It is impossible to see, however, that we will not see an increase in demand for both permanent and temporary staffing requirements. What these will be, in terms of the types of staff and the impact of new procedures, technology and processes are also unclear.

What is clear is that all the dials point to with increases in populations, there will be increases in demands for services across virtually every sector with maternity care, mental health, elderly support and earlier detection and prevention of diseases ear-marked for extra investment.

Unless productivity is massively increased by the application of new working practices or technology, the numbers entering employment through huge increased training investment, or massive inward migration into the UK, the skill shortages which currently pervade the NHS are not going away in either the short or medium term.

This means the opportunities for existing suppliers or new entrants remains good. The opportunities for technology providers to support the NHS where new skills such as AI, Automation, Machine Learning and Big Data which are not normally recruited is huge. The challenge here will be to meet the demand in the NHS within their rigid pay bands when the private sector are already paying huge skill premiums themselves.

There is clearly a massive gap and demand opportunity here. Perhaps a creative collaborative solution can be found between the university/training sector, NHS Trusts and the agency providers, which helps to bridge this demand.

We would be hugely interested in meeting and interviewing anyone as part of our new Global Recruitment Thought Leaders video series who has ideas around this.

No3 Engineering

The top three positions are very close with us ranking Engineering in third place purely due to the delay that has occurred with some capital projects due to Brexit uncertainty.

Nevertheless the overall demand is still very high.

In the UK the engineering sector employees 5.6m people — a rise of 5.1% in the past five years. Engineering generates 23% of GDP and has an accelerator effect on the UK economy, as every time a new job is created in engineering 1.7 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy. (Source The state of engineering Key facts 2018) Over 27% of enterprises are in engineering so the sector represents a significant part of the UK economy.

Engineering UK estimate that the economy requires 124,000 skilled engineers to meet existing demand and a further 79,000 engineers to meet demand from new industries and technologies making a demand for 203,000 engineers per year.

Unfortunately we have an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers so there is not surprise that 46% of employers report recruitment difficulties.

In essence we need more engineers as a nation and with Brexit looming this is becoming a crucial skills gap that we need to address.

It goes without saying that this sector is set for a sustained growth for the next 3-5 years.

The recent KPMG/REC Jobs report indicated that Permanent Engineering demand was the highest alongside Accounting and Finance jobs, which we ranked at No 6, just outside our Top five due to Brexit uncertainty.

Temp/Contract demand was high as employers sought to fill their resource gaps with temporary labour.

No2 Energy, Oil and Gas

This is the first time this sector has made our top three for over eight years due to the oil price which has been so volatile; but the stabilisation of the oil price above the magic $50 a barrel now for over 12 months is seeing a healthy level of investment in the sector, if not in the UK.

Whilst this is not fuelling a jobs boom a dramatic rise in demand for renewables and nuclear in China, the UK and Europe has seen a tremendous demand for skills across this sector.

Renewable energy capacity in the UK has more than tripled in the past five years and in 2018 overtook fossil fuels for the first time ever.

Between July and September 2018, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. This would have been unthinkable a decade ago and the rate of growth of renewables means this is expected to continue.

Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, stated the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. Dr Iain Staffell, who undertook the research, said: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.” The Guardian carried the story and further data is available in their article published in November 2018.

Renewables therefore now produce more than 20% of the UK’s electricity, and EU targets means that this is likely to increase to 30% by 2020.

According to Deloitte “a record 4.9 GW of offshore wind came on line in 2017 across 15 countries, bringing the total capacity to 19.3 GW, mostly located in the UK, Germany, China and Denmark. Offshore energy has reached parity in Germany and Denmark and is projected to do the same in the UK between 2025 and 2030.”

So you will not be surprised to hear that there are huge skills gaps emerging across the sector with over 80% of hiring managers reporting skill shortages as being their number one obstacle to continued business growth in 2018/19.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a body made up of 29 leading organisations in the sector, has noted that an estimated 221,000 vacancies will need to be filled in the next decade, brought about through the retirement of 100,000 employees and 90,000 workers leaving to find new roles.

Interestingly enough, according to Taylor Hopkinson Skills Shortage Report the top three countries globally for vacancies in the sector are the UK, China and the Netherlands.

We may not be conventional in our thinking but we believe that in 2019 recruitment agencies operating in this sector will be amongst the fastest growing in terms of revenues, margins and profits; and given that the UK is probably amongst the richest nations in the world for offshore energy opportunities we see the medium term future for this sector as very positive.

No1 Information Technology

When we started writing these blog posts six years ago the term Information Technology and the sector were quite distinct and discreet but today technology pervades all our lives, environments both work and domestic and every profession and walk of life.

This sector is and will continue to be for the next two to three decades the one which will see the greatest skills gaps and the largest opportunities for recruitment agencies to grow in.

There are estimated to be in excess of 600,000 unfilled technology sector jobs in the UK according to the Edge Foundation and this is expected to continue growing at 12% p.a. up until 2024.

A recent study by Spiceworks State of IT where they surveyed 1,000 tech professionals across North America and Europe indicates that the two main drivers are Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence. This is a great report and well worth a read.

With this in mind we believe the most acute skills shortages in 2019 are likely to be in the following areas:

Cyber security

Cyber security is now in such high demand that experts predict that the global market will be worth $165.2bn by 2023. New research by (ISC)2  puts the global workforce skills gap at 2.93 million with roughly 142,000 in Europe and 500,000 of those positions located in North America.

In the UK Cyber security talent requirements have soared as a result of several high-profile hacks, as organisations demand long-term defence against cybercrime and the annual requirement for permanent and contract IT security professionals has increased by 46%, according to the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report from Experis, the global leader in professional IT resourcing.

Data Scientists

For the past three years Data Scientist jobs have been named by Glassdoor as the No1 sought after skill in the US. In Europe it is estimated that the skills gap is 346,000 jobs with the European Commission estimating that a further 100,000 new jobs will be created by 2020. In addition IBM estimate that data scientists will account for 28% of all digital jobs by 2020.

Essentially there is clearly a huge growth opportunity for recruitment agencies to support this sector over the next few years.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Gartner is predicting that by the end of 2019 AI will be creating more jobs than it is taking. They indicate that whilst 1.8m jobs will be lost with manufacturing taking the biggest hit, 2.3m jobs will be created through automation in education, healthcare and the public sector.

Full Stack Developers

According to Indeed Full stack developers are among the most in-demand by employers right now in terms of open job postings. Demand is up 600+% over the past three years..

DevOps Engineers

These are rapidly becoming one of the top skills globally with Glassdoor naming them as No2 job in 2018 in the US and with everything moving towards the cloud there seems no let up in demand for these skills.

Python Developers

It’s hardly surprising with the explosion in demand for AI that demand for Python Developer skills going through the roof. Python is now the fastest growing programming language and we see in 2019 an acceleration in demand for Python.

Java/JavaScript Developers

Growth of Cloud technology and solutions mean that demand for Java and JavaScript will continue to grow in 2019. Data from Glassdoor, Indeed and CWJobs all point to this being another growth skill area in 2019. The JavaScript demand is being fuelled by corporate enterprise environments that have a demand for the delivery of compelling interfaces.

2019 Overall Outlook

The outlook for the recruitment sector overall is positive despite the trials and tribulations in the UK caused by Brexit.

In December 2018 the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) annual report indicated that the UK sector is worth nearly £36 billion and is projected to grow in 2019 by a further 4% and 5% 2019/20.

“The number of businesses operating in the UK recruitment industry grew by almost 10 per cent in the year to March 2018, totalling 30,430, and the industry employed approximately 115,000 people”

Other figures from the 2017/18 report include:

  • Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of temporary assignments were for 12+ weeks, while one in five (20 per cent) were for 6+ months (compared to 61 per cent and 20 per cent respectively in 2016/17)
  • 85 per cent of contract placements were for 12+ weeks, and 45 per cent of contract workers were on assignment for 6+ months (compared to 80 per cent and 44 per cent respectively in 2016/17)
  • The average value of permanent placements from the wider recruitment industry was £4,238 (up by 6.4 per cent on the average in 2016/17)
  • The average annualised turnover of each temporary/contract worker on assignment was £34,976 (up 20 per cent on the average in 2016/17)

We also see positive signs from the 20-30 clients we work with that the recruitment sector overall is positive and provides a significant contribution to the record employment levels that exist in the UK today.

It may be controversial but we have almost full employment in the UK with record skills gaps in virtually all professional and skilled sectors of the economy.

We appreciate that the large numbers of unskilled people in the UK needs addressing, but compared to the economic challenges that many of us faced during the recessions of the 1980s, 90s and 00s, the outlook is extremely positive.

Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2018

Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2018


It is five years since I wrote my amazingly popular blog Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years. At the time unemployment was still rising across most of Europe and the UK economy flat-lining.

25,000 views later things have transformed somewhat and we have seen some dramatic changes in the World.

Economic positive growth has returned to much of the world economy and the OECD outlook for 2018 is very positive. The UK voting for Brexit and the US voting for Donald Trump have seen a huge shift towards populist voting and a rejection of the establishment and globalisation and sadly the growth of extremist terrorism.

Overall however I believe our predictions have been pretty accurate.

At the time our predictions were:

  1. Information Technology
  2. Engineering
  3. Energy, Oil and Gas
  4. Healthcare
  5. Emerging Technology application

Anyone who moved into these sectors in 2013 would have seen a pretty successful period of opportunity and growth perhaps only energy, oil and gas sector agencies may have been disappointed.

This year I have accepted a few speaking engagements at conferences, the first of which is Recruitment Expo 2018 in London at the end of January.

There I will be talking about the Future of Recruitment 2020-2030 and will be sharing my views on what the world of employment and recruitment will look like in 2020-2030? What changes are likely and unlikely? Will Artificial Intelligence and Bots replace everyone and everything? Will recruiters still have a job and if so what will that job look like?

UK and Global Economic Dynamics

As always it is important to state the economic forecasts on which we are basing our predictions.

2017 has seen UK economic growth come in at around 1.5% pretty much in line with what we predicted last year in our blog Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2017

and above the 1% some people feared. In fact JP Morgan estimate it will end up at 2%.

For 2018 most commentators are making forecasts between 1.4% (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and 2.2% (Capital Economics Consultancy). We have chosen to base our forecast on a UK GDP Growth rate of 1.8%, which is the median. We believe the biggest impact on the recruitment sector will be the pervasive skill shortages across the UK that will see salaries and freelance/temp rates rise strongly in 2018.

Globally the picture is positive which has seen strong growth in the world’s stock markets. The BBCs Economic Editor Kamal Ahmed characterises it as …

“the gentle recovery in economic growth and increasing demand for companies products across the major drivers of the world economy – Japan and the Asian emerging markets; the Eurozone and, most importantly, America.

Secondly, there is the continuing stable expansion of that other engine of the world economy – China.

It is the first time since the financial crisis that such a growth “synchronisation” has happened.

Thirdly, there is little evidence of increasing inflationary pressures, meaning interest rates are likely to remain at close to historically low levels.”

Taken from BBC Website

All in all we believe the economic outlook for recruiters will be favourable with one or two challenges caused by the roller-coaster headlines associated Brexit negotiations.

On this our advice is simple to our readers and clients.

Stay focused on your locus of control and do not become distracted by things like Brexit over, which you and your teams have no influence and no control.

Top five Sectors for high growth in 2018


No 5. Construction

With several of our clients operating very successfully in this sector we’d love to be more positive as we do see a huge skills shortage in construction and therefore the opportunity for strong agency growth is very high.

There is however a large amount of uncertainty caused by Brexit over new

infrastructure and commercial projects.

The recent figures in December (published in January) from IHS Markit on the Purchasing Managers index pointed to a mixed picture with Commercial projects index contracting, the infrastructure projects index stable but house building index riding high. Overall the picture was positive with a growth figure of 52.2 (any figure over 50% is positive growth). This was the third month in a row and:

There were positive signals for the near-term business outlook, with new order growth reaching a seven-month high and job creation the strongest since June

The sectors employment index was also positive so overall we see the future demand for staff from projects will remain healthy. What makes us even more positive is the migration figures which show that many of the Eastern European workers from Poland, for example, have returned and reduced the available talent pool.

With the overall demand from UK Construction healthy for next six months and availability of skills weak we see this as positive for those recruitment agencies in this sector though given the uncertainty we would not be encouraging too many businesses to risk new entry into the market currently.

There are many new infrastructure projects planned in 2018-19 and as we move towards getting clarity on the post-Brexit world we believe investment will return to the sector.

Overall this is our reason placing Construction at No. 5 this year.

No 4. Healthcare

We have include Healthcare for the first time in a couple of years as the sector appears to have shrugged off the challenges and uncertainty surrounding IR35 and the demand for health professionals seems once again to be growing rapidly and at a steady pace.

This is predominantly in the area of temporary nursing and medical staff, which according to Kevin Green REC is a result of the strain on NHS Trusts.


“Nursing and medical staff remain the most in demand for temporary roles – further evidence of the strain the NHS is feeling on filling vacancies.

Whilst the above quote relates to his comments in the December 2017 IHS Markit/REC Report on Jobs what is clear is that this is a trend that is unlikely to subside in 2018 and if anything likely to accelerate as the demand for healthcare services shows no sign of abating.

As can been seen there are clearly huge supply issues as stated recently in the Guardian 13th December 2017

While the NHS in England has 40,000 more clinical staff than in 2012, it is short of 42,000 nurses, midwives and therapists, according to Health Education England, which has drafted the NHS’s first strategy in 25 years to tackle chronic understaffing.

HEE, the NHS’s staffing agency, also warns that the health service workforce, which already stands at 1.4 million, will need to increase by 190,000 by 2027 unless the rise in illness recedes.

Bank and agency personnel cover most of the vacant shifts. But HEE warns that patients could receive poorer care because unavailability of staff is so common that 8% of vacant shifts go unfilled, thus “increasing pressure on existing staff and potentially impacting on quality”.

The HEE Report also highlighted:

Shortages are now so acute that:

  • The NHS is short of 42,000 nursesmidwives, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
  • A widespread lack of nurses is most severe in London, where 15% of posts are vacant, and lowest at 8% in the north-east.
  • There are 1,674 (26%) fewer district nurses and 842 fewer learning disability nurses than in 2012.
  • GP numbers have fallen by 1% over the last five years despite a key government pledge to increase the total by 5,000 between 2015 and 2020.
  • Almost one in three paramedic jobs are vacant across England.
  • The number of nurses leaving the profession rose from 7.1% in 2011-12 to 8.7% last year.

The NHS has become much better at controlling off framework spend and so the barriers of entry for non-framework providers are high and we see them remaining so if not increasing in the future. This sector therefore has good growth opportunity for framework providers.


No. 3 Manufacturing

In the final quarter of 2017 manufacturing enjoyed its best quarter for three and a half years and the outlook given the reduction in the pound is for this to continue for the next 2-3 years.

Manufacturing has certainly been a major winner of Brexit and exporters particularly are seeing a renaissance in their fortunes, which bodes well for UK Plc. in the years to come.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “UK manufacturers were, in the main, in good shape as 2017 came to a close, with the majority of sub-sectors enjoying growth.

“Manufacturers’ expectations for the year ahead point to output and export growth being maintained through this year on the back of continuing support from a burgeoning global economy.”

This is a result of two big trends; a weaker sterling caused by Brexit, which is making exports cheaper and the expanding global economy particularly China, Europe and the USA.

Against this back drop we must take note of the supply of workers in the sector which according to surveys in 2017 is reaching critical point with 67% of manufacturers in the summer reporting concerns that skill shortages were affecting their ability to grow and met demands for new orders.

This reinforces Kevin Green’s comments that we will see significant increased pressure on salaries in 2018.

The supply pressures were reiterated by the CBI in October 2017 following a survey of 450 members stating:

The number of manufacturing firms citing a shortage of workers for limiting their investment plans is at its highest for four years, according to a survey by the CBI.

In another survey of 371 manufacturers, 28% said order books were above normal while 11% said they were below normal. The balance of + 17 points was the joint highest on record and well above the long-term

The CBI stated that order books were particularly buoyant for the motor vehicles and transport equipment, and mechanical engineering sectors.

Anna Leach, the CBI’s head of economic intelligence, said: “As we head towards the end of 2017, UK manufacturers’ total order books remain at a near-30-year high, with export order books remaining at their strongest since the mid-1990s.

Taking all this evidence into hand we are confident that 2018 will be a great year for recruitment agencies servicing the manufacturing sectors.

We have some concerns about the medium to long term as we believe this critical skill shortage will encourage organisations, with interest rates so low, to accelerate their automation plans introducing Bots, Augmentation, Drones, 3D Printing and AI to increase productivity within their manufacturing processes.

For this reason we would encourage recruitment agencies to seize this opportunity to move into these key niche sectors to future proof their business and take advantage of the premium fees that will be available.


No. 2 Engineering

As stated in previous years the top two sectors offer by far the greatest opportunity for growth than any others. This year however we do see manufacturing and healthcare starting to close the gap and for once it is possible that one of them could by the end of 2018 break into the top two.

That said the underlying demographic issues that we have highlighted in previous years of:

  • An ageing workforce of baby-boomers leaving between now and 2025.
  • The lack of STEM graduates over the past 10-15 years means the talent pool to replace them is woefully small and undersized
  • Brexit migration changes have seen the number of foreign nationals from EU countries returning to dampen the talent pool
  • The under investment in training over the past 10-15 years means the number entering the market to replace those exiting is totally insufficient.

We have stated this before but the scale of the problem is estimated to be:

Research suggests that 182,000 additional workers are needed to plug engineering-focused graduate and apprentice positions every year until 2022, according to Engineering UK.

 That’s over 1m more engineers.

According to Engineering UK; Currently the UK produces only 46,000 engineering graduates each year. There will also be demand for around 69,000 people qualified at advanced apprenticeship or equivalent level each year. Yet only around 27,000 UK apprentices a year currently qualify at the appropriate level.

There is light at the end of the tunnel but it is many years off and that is the introduction of the apprenticeship levy is forcing employers to look at investing in training, The numbers of higher apprenticeship scheme (degree equivalent) and the number of students embarking on these is growing and will accelerate over the next 2-3 years.

Sadly for employers these apprentices are 5-8 years away from making a significant impact on the skill shortage but it’s a start.

As with manufacturing, we see automation, AI, augmentation and bots having an impact, which will also help the UK productivity figures that are woefully behind the rest of the G7 countries.


No 1. IT and Technology

Once again IT and Technology tops our top five list and we do not really see this changing before the end of the decade.

All our clients operating in these sectors have healthy grow figures, typically 30-100% year on year. Their placement fees and margins are 18-22%, and their average fee values approaching £8-10,000 per deal.

Candidate shortages pervade the sector and the list of critical skills that people cannot source grows monthly.

Our IT & Tech Niche Recruitment Agencies tell us that the following are the top ten they predict for 2018 in no particular order are:

  • AR Development skills
  • Data Scientists
  • Cyber Security Experts
  • Mobile App Developers
  • SaaS in the Cloud Professionals
  • Applied Machine Learning
  • Multi-faceted Programming languages (Python, JavaScript)
  • Data Analytics
  • Digital Transformation
  • AI Experts

The principal drivers in this sector that are causing the skills shortage are:

  • Historical shortages of IT professionals
  • Acceleration of development and adoption IT & Tech products by business
  • Push for commercial and competitive advantage
  • Push for the next disruptive business model
  • Lack of sector training
  • Baby Boomer Generations leaving the sector

These pressures are global not just UK. In fact it could be argued that the UK leads the world in many of these micro niche sectors such as Digital Transformation and Development, FinTech, AI, AR and Big Data.

For those businesses already in this sector we see 2018 being a healthy year for growth and margins.



Once again that’s our predictions for 2018.

These forecasts are based upon our hands on experience of working with 30-35 recruitment agencies across all sectors during the past 12 months. With all of them growing at annual rates of over 30%+ year-on-year and some 200-300%, we believe we are well placed to know the best sectors to work in.

As with 2017, despite Brexit we continue to see healthy times ahead for the UK Recruitment Market but as we move beyond 2020 with Brexit and the advance of technology the future remains less clear.

You may have a difference of opinion and have experiences, which are not so positive so please contact me, [email protected] and let us know or share your thoughts.

We’d love to hear them.



BREXIT – 8 Tips for Managing the Challenges Ahead

Whether you voted “in” or “out” few can disagree that the events of the past few days have been seismic and will change the nature of our country and world forever whatever scenario plays out in the weeks, months and years ahead.

This blog makes no assessment of the merits of either in or out but seeks to help Recruitment Business Leaders cope with some of the challenges you are likely to face.
There is a huge amount of uncertainty; fear and anger about and probably will be for several weeks to come. As we return to work, as recruitment business owners and leaders we have to move forward irrespective of our views. Some of my clients have contacted me recently for some suggestions on how to approach the next few weeks or so please find below my suggestions:

1. The Emotional Cycle of Change recognise and understand it.
Psychologists and business change managers will tell you that in times like this the vast majority of us will go through the following emotional cycle of change. There are various models of emotional change but the most famous model of this was developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Her “Emotional Change Cycle” (shock, elation, anger, denial, blame, confusion, and finally acceptance) charts the typical human reaction to change and has been validated repeatedly. Many of you will see this playing out in the media, in political spheres and across social media. This is the first time we have however seen 16m going through this simultaneously.

Some of you will have been or may still be going on this huge emotional journey yourselves with a mixture of shock, elation, anger, denial blame, confusion before hopefully a level of acceptance that you and I individually cannot change what has happened at a national level.

This emotional journey is totally natural and to a degree healthy.
We all make and experience this journey differently and at different paces.
Recruitment Consultants are by their nature tend to be demonstrative creatures and this change will affect them. The vast majority of your teams are young and in all likelihood according to statistical polls did not vote for this so may be feeling angry.
An awareness of this cycle will help you make sense of some peoples behaviour and enable you to support them through this change in so far as it affects them at work.
My first suggestion is that in the first couple of weeks you may need to be more tolerant than normal of emotional reactions but equally you must assert boundaries if these reactions become unacceptable.

Rather than responding yourself to their passion or outburst I suggest you ask people to go for a cool down, a walk, take the afternoon off or even a day or so. The key thing is to take emotion out of the situation. You may feel the need to do this too and that is cool.

2. Strong Positive Leadership

Whatever your personal emotional state, at work I would recommend assuming a strong positive and determined to succeed attitude. There is going to be a lot of doubt, fear and anxiety around. I suggest you need to keep positive and don’t be taken on other peoples fear journey’s. Help your teams remain focused on the positive. In my experience we may be in for several weeks where the glass is half empty and the future unclear and uncertain.

Look for positive stories in your teams work and efforts and in the world around you. Celebrate them and keep people focused on the positive.

It might help to talk about the importance of positivity in the office with your teams and gain their commitment as a team to engendering a positive work environment.

At the same time be aware and look out for ‘mood-hovers’ in your office. Take them to one side and remind them that as a team you agreed that negativity will not be tolerated.

You may wish to use the cooling off techniques already discussed if they need time to adjust to a work issue which has affected their moral.

3. Remind people the fundamentals are still strong

The underlying economy is still strong, the demand for staff exceeds supply, there are still skill-shortages in most sectors and these are not going to change overnight. There are jobs to fill out there. Even at the height of the last recession 96% of business carried on and the Bank of England and most economists would say we are a long way from those times.
What you may notice over the next few weeks is the number of requirements could reduce and change from permanent requirements to temp/contract needs. Some requirements may become harder to find but all this means is we all need to work harder and smarter.

It is worth remembering the story of the two men walking through a forest. Suddenly, they see a tiger in the distance, running towards them. They turn and start running away. But then one of them stops, takes some running shoes from his bag, and starts putting the on.

“What are you doing?” says the other man.
“Do you think you will run faster than the tiger with those?”
“I don’t have to run faster than the tiger,” he says. “I just have to run faster than you.”

We don’t have to out run our tigers in business either we just need to focus on out running our competition. You might find it helpful to motivate your people to pull together. Evoke their sense of team spirit or may be even create a team incentive beating the competition in head-to-head job fills.

4. Track job flow

From your perspective you need to monitor your business closely.

In my experience-tracking job flow is one of the most important things to do to give you a sense of what is really happening in the market. It will vary from week to week as it has done previously so you will need to watch the trend over a two to three-month period. If there is a severe downturn you will note it sooner this way to allow you to take appropriate action. I do not expect this to be too dramatic myself but I think we will notice fewer Permanent roles and more Temp/Perm jobs. The nature of the jobs may change and their durations so watch this too.

Remind people of the A/B/C Job classification and ensure they focus on getting A & B jobs.

5. There will also be BREXIT work to do.

You will find that there are going to be BREXIT jobs probably temps and contract in IT, Finance, Banking, Engineering, Legal, Procurement, Accounting and Call Centre. Be aware they will come as businesses look to change systems, processes and business centres and well as operating locations. It’s an opportunity so be aware of it and have your teams look for it.

6. Work Harder and Smarter – Focus your teams on Activity
In my experience of all the economic down turns (80s, 90s, and 00s) a key element for success is as well as remaining positive to just work harder and smarter.

Many of you will know this is one of my pet topics but now it is more important than ever.

In my experience in successful businesses all consultants who are not on target need to be hitting their weekly activity targets. Rather than impose this on the teams discuss it and get agreement.

People may need to work longer hours in the short term to maintain their performance levels. That has to be their choice but they may be willing to do that to keep their income levels and in some cases their jobs.

7. Don’t Carry Passengers
The final comment for your team is don’t carry people who have the ability to do the job but are not delivering and pulling with the team. If it helps with some people you may need to remind them of this first and give them an opportunity to improve performance but try the positive approach and the focus on activity first.

If this fails then you will need to look at your disciplinary procedures in your staff handbooks and potentially start formal processes.

I am always of the opinion that giving people notice of what you expect of them and making it clear on what is good performance and what level of performance will not be tolerated will make life fairer for all.

You must be clear and consistent with all your teams and doing this will enable people to make the right choices about making this work.

Ultimately if they choose not to make the right choices around performance then you may have to begin steps to terminate their employment

8. Live in the NOW

Finally on a personal note I read a book several years ago called the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I found it very useful and it helped me go through a personally difficult time in my life and you might find it helpful too.

In essence it suggests we spend too much of modern life living mentally in the past or in the future and worrying about things.
Our minds are either regretting what we should have done or worrying about what might happen. Tolle reminds us the only place where we can actually affect the future is through the actions in the present today therefore we need to remain totally present and focused. In addition I would add that remaining present ensures we do not miss opportunities that exist now, today. They are all around us and we need to keep a watchful eye otherwise we will miss them.

When I started practicing living in the NOW it was difficult and I was shocked how often Tolle was right. I was living in the future or the past mentally but as I started to live in the NOW I also noted that the problems I had been worrying about started to shift and sort themselves out before they actually happened.

My last suggestion to you is therefore learn to live day to day and focus on the reality of what is happening today.

Certainly for the next few weeks try to live each day in the present and ignore speculation about what will could or might happen. Detach yourself from it.

I will not be watching the morning news other than to grab the headlines. To help myself I will be resuming my daily meditations you might want to look at this or practice mindfulness. Yoga is a great outlet and for some of you make sure you increase or maintain your physical exercise regimes.

One of the benefits of practicing living in the NOW is that you will notice the level of fear in your life diminishes.

One of the acronyms for FEAR is that it stands for

Fantasized Emotions Appearing Real

That is FEAR is not reality. In my experience having experienced events, which are truly frightening you do not feel fear when it is happening only afterwards when you reflect on what has just happened.

Fear occurs therefore through the expectation of an event, which people are imagining. There are various NLP techniques we use to help people become aware of the power of the mind and FEAR, which we can teach.

We at the Recruitment Training Group hope this has been both timely and helpful and would love to hear from you if you believe we can help you.

We shared this with our clients first and we share it with you in the interests of helping all of us build and create a new and better world post BREXIT.