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].

Future of Recruitment 2020-30 – Your Future Starts Today – RecExpo 2018 Download

This week Ian Knowlson spoke at the Recruitment Expo at the NEC in Birmingham on the Future of the Recruitment Industry 2020-2030.

During the talk Ian discussed many topics including the future of recruitment for Managed Service Providers and Niche Agencies as well as the threats to their businesses future and the opportunities for them.

Ian’s talk received overwhelmingly positive reviews from those in attendance with numerous requests for copies of the slides.

Please complete the form below if you would like to receive the files.

Future of Recruitment – A Shifting Paradigm for Recruiters

Future of Recruitment – A Shifting Paradigm for Recruiters


In the next decade the fourth industrial revolution is going to totally transform the recruitment landscape.
According to PWC in its recent UK economic outlook, 7 million UK jobs will be displaced over the next 20 years however 7.2 million jobs will be created. Industries such as manufacturing and agriculture will suffer an overall  jobs loss whilst other industries such as new tech and healthcare will see job growth.

So how do recruiters navigate this maelstrom of change?

This blog will hopefully start to unravel some of the complexities that surround this topic and provide you a toolset for you to understand how this will impact your recruitment business, niche and sector.

Future Workplace will see Job Fractionalisation

Jobs by their very definition consist of a number of tasks, which each employee undertakes on a daily and weekly basis. The effect of artificial intelligence (AI), augmentation and machine learning on the workplace will  see technology increasingly displace humans in many tasks and processes, which will lead to the fractionalisation of work.

Recently Andy Haldane chief economist at the Bank of England said there will be widespread “hollowing-out” of job roles and whole job families as large swathes of people become “technologically unemployed.”

Other industry commentators, like PWC in their July 18 Economic Outlook (quoted above), are more neutral on the overall impact on the total number of jobs lost.

What is clear is that every job in every part of the economy is going to be impacted to a greater or lesser extent.

So how does this affect you as recruiters?

Taking the Pulse of the Market

Well for a start off it is going to dramatically change the nature of your job. Your markets are going to become even more dynamic than they have been. Sources of Talent are going to change, Talent itself will change, clients will seek new “Talent-Sets”and will be totally blind as to where to find these new “Talent-Sets”, what they will cost and how easy it is to find them or even what they look like.

This will create both opportunity and threats to you, your business and your income stream. You will need to become advisors to your clients and applicants, in other words “True-Consultants”

The skills gaps that exist in the UK economy today are going to shift, evolve, disappear, transform and all with increasing rapidity.

Most niche recruiters thrive on sourcing hard to fill skills for their clients. This model has enabled them over the past 15 to 20 years to secure premiums in their fees by being experts in how to source rare talent.

But when the talent itself is changing at such a dynamic rate how will you manage to sustain your placement rates?

How will you know where the talent is, where to find it and what it looks like unless you can successfully traverse this dynamically changing environment?

At Selling Success we see the key to the continued success of niche recruiters comes from learning to navigate this hugely dynamic landscape.

In essence you can become reactive or proactive as a recruiter. The large spoils however will undoubtedly belong to the proactive recruiters who learn to read this dynamic vortex. You will need to maintain your finger on the pulse of your market, constantly monitoring the shifts in “talent-sets”, hiring manager demands and candidate surpluses.

Future of Work Study Conclusions

In the past 12 months we as growth coaches at Selling Success have studied and spoken many times at conferences about the various Future of Work studies that have been conducted. A new one appears each week but here is a list of some of the major ones:

Having read and analysed many of these reports we have identified that there are number of commonalities of those jobs that will be automated and disappear.

Future of Work – Disappearing Careers

Typically these are jobs that are:

  • Repetitive and routine
  • Heavily knowledge-based
  • High customer service/contact
  • Highly administrative
  • Possess a low number of predictable variables
  • Low skilled
  • Process orientated

You would need to spend some time studying your own sector to establish, which roles have the highest probability of disappearing. One tool that will help you comes from the work by Frey & Osborne from Oxford Martin University, which has been heavily quoted by many commentators. There is an interactive graphic produced by Bloomberg that enables readers and recruiters to enter a job type and see the likely risk of automation to the role.

The link is

Their graphic for example shows that Accountants and Auditor though well educated and well paid were at a 94% risk of their jobs being automated. Whilst this has been questioned by many readers, you only have to look at the accounting tools now available from Xero or Sage to understand how this can easily happen. As an example in the accounting and finance professions the jobs Frey & Osborne indicate will be lost are typically:

  • Book Keepers
  • Auditors
  • Credit Analysts
  • Loan Officers
  • Admin/Service Managers

Future of Work – Resilient Careers

By contrast the ones that are least likely to be automated are ones that require:

  • High degree of skill
  • High levels of persuasion
  • Man-management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional Care
  • Are highly varied
  • Critical Thinking
  • Resolving Conflicting Concepts
  • Original Thought
  • Repair

You will need to analyse your own niche sector roles to establish which of your jobs that you recruit for regularly are the ones least likely to be affected.

In the world of healthcare however there are many jobs, which are likely to have longevity.

These would include the following:

  • Dentists
  • Surgeons
  • Pharmacists
  • Cosmetologists
  • Medical assistants
  • Theatre nurses
  • Doctors and Locums

There is no doubt that automation will have an impact on all of these jobs and that several of the tasks that are performed by these individuals will be automated. Equally it is true to say however that the principle essence of these roles will continue in their current form for many years to come.

In addition to the jobs that exist in society today thousands of new jobs will be created in your niche sectors.

Future of Work – Emerging Careers

In principle these will be created around four main areas:

  • Creating new technology
  • Maintaining new technology
  • Collaborating with new technology
  • New Technological Dimension

The first three are self-explanatory and you should be able to track these during rigorous client and candidate meetings and interviews. Examples of these “emerging careers” would be:

  • Robot Programmers
  • AI Engineer
  • AI Project Engineer
  • Machine-Learning Engineer
  • Home-Aid Engineer
  • Personal Care Aide
  • Logistic Fleet Controller
  • Drone Pilots
  • Computer Vision Engineers
  • Machine Learning Analyst
  • AI Librarian
  • Litigation Bot Controller

Several of these are already entering mainstream recruitment.

Work Reimagined

The fourth one, “New Technological Dimension”, is less obvious.

As new technology become available it will create totally new services and solutions to problems and challenges that are currently beyond our comprehension. These jobs will only emerge once the new technologies have become established.

An example of this is “Vloggers”. Until the Internet and production technology enabled the easy creation and distribution of blogs and video, video-blogging was something that a 20th Century recruiter had no concept they would one day recruit.

The same is true of an “App-Developer” to a 1980 pre-mobile phone recruiter. Those of us recruiting in the 1980’s had no concept a job developing applications to run on mobile phones would ever be possible.

The explosion of new technology that will come over the next 10-20 years with the fourth industrial revolution will see totally new careers, jobs and skills being created and demanded.

Again the only why to ride this wave of opportunity is to have your figure on the pulse of what is happening in your niche sector. Stay alert and learn to “reimagine work” as we know it.

Navigating the New Recruitment Paradigm

Armed with this information you are now in a position to start to make sense of how your niche and market sector will be affected in the coming decade. In fact by becoming a expert in identifying and predicting those roles that are most likely to be impacted you can start to transform your own skills and become a true consultant to your customers.

This should allow you to command premium rates from your clients for your services as well as develop and nurture mutually beneficial and profitable business relationships.

The time has arrived to become the true expert in talent sourcing in your niche, and may be it is also time to reimagine your own career.

Ian Knowlson Speaks at NPA Worldwide Conference in Cyprus

Ian Knowlson Speaks at NPA Worldwide Conference in Cyprus


This week Ian Knowlson is speaking at the NPA Worldwide Conference in Larnaca Cyprus.

NPAworldwide has been connecting independent global recruiting firms to facilitate split placements. NPAworldwide is the oldest recruiting network of its kind, with an international membership of recruiting firms located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas.

Ian will be presenting on speaking about – What will the world of employment and recruitment 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?

Ian Knowlson will consider the plethora of industry reports and commentaries on the future of work and employment from such esteemed and notable personalities and organisations as Simon Sinek, Elon Musk, PWC, McKinseys, the REC and BIOR. He will discuss and help you draw conclusions on the future of employment 2020-2030.


With Ian you will start to make sense of the timeline ahead and how the landscape of employment/recruitment will change. You will start to understand which sectors are predicted to grow and which are forecast to decline. How this will impact both niche recruiters and large-scale global recruiters and the consequences that this will have for those of us planning to be working in the sector during this period.

So the delegates will be invited to join Ian and take a time machine into your future to see if it is one that fills you with dread and fear or wonder, awe and excitement.