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Recruitment industry edges closer to 40,000-agency mark

Written by the Editorial Team

New figures published today reveal the total number of newly registered recruitment agencies in the UK was higher in April than at any time over the last six years.

Figures obtained from Companies House by Clearly PR, a leading PR and Content Marketing agency for the recruitment sector, found that a total of 1,199 agencies were registered as newly trading agencies between 1st – 30th April, compared to 981 in March.

This puts the start-up rate for recruitment agencies higher last month than at any time since 2012. Since the start of 2018, over 3,900 (3,957) have been registered.

There are currently 39,232 recruitment agencies registered as trading in the UK. With the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing there are 2.67 million limited companies as of end of March, this equates to around 67 businesses per recruitment agency.

The continued rise in the number of recruitment start-ups is reflective of the confidence of the sector compared to other areas of the economy. While several industries have seen a downturn, as a consequence of the government’s failure to provide clarity over Britain’s trading relationship with Europe once Brexit comes into effect, the recruitment industry remains buoyant.

Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, managing director at Clearly PR, said: “The skills shortage continues to trouble many employers. Companies are increasingly concerned about their ability to find and attract the right talent to fill their vacancies – it is getting harder for them.

“For a growing number of employers, seeking external support in the form of a recruitment agency has moved from being a nice-to-have to an essential element of their hiring strategy. This is fuelling the recruitment start-up economy which is enjoying its fastest growing period in years.”

Indeed, last week it was reported that 1,600 IT and Engineering workers who had been offered jobs in the UK were denied visa between December and March. But this is only the tip of the proverbial skills crisis iceberg.

The same report stated that 1,876 medical practitioners and healthcare workers and 197 teachers were also refused permission to take up their job offers in the UK over the same period.

It’s a similar picture when it comes to STEM recruitment, which has recently been put at costing £1.5 billion a year.

“‘Global Britain’ is fast-becoming a closed shop,” said MacKenzie-Cummins.

“It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is record employment which means there are few people actively seeking new career opportunities.

“On the other hand, Brexit is deterring many overseas workers from wanting to apply to work in the UK, with a growing number who are already doing so now looking to leave.

“Add the rise in the number of visa refusals to the equation, and the prospects for employers with roles to fill are looking less and less favourable; hence, the growing need for better, more effective recruitment strategies.”

While 2017 was the strongest year for the sector since 2012 in terms of the start-up rate, the number of new players entering the market this year suggests that 2018 could see an equally impressive period of growth.

“Where demand is high, there will always be those with the entrepreneurial spirit to seize the opportunity and branch out on their own,” added MacKenzie-Cummins.

For more information about Clearly PR, visit