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TALiNT Partners calls out REC on debatable data

By Dawn Gibson

The latest report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) estimates that the recruitment industry supports £86 billion in gross value added across the economy, the equivalent of 4.3% of GDP, larger than either the accounting or legal industries – a claim which will raise eyebrows among accountants and lawyers given their industries are collectively around five times the size.


It’s a debatable statistic, and does nothing to speak to the value recruitment does deliver, according to TALiNT Partners managing director Ken Brotherston – who argues that the REC’s  'dodgy data' makes the key points of the report ‘borderline meaningless’.


“The recruitment industry is a critical component of the UK economy, but it’s not size that matters but agility. Over-hyping a big number with dodgy statistics doesn’t help,” he said.


“It’s a shame because once past the headlines, the report actually touches on some key areas where staffing firms have an important part to play in re-booting the economy, helping get people back to work quickly and enabling those entering the workforce for the first time to find the right position.”


Responding to Ken Brotherston’s challenge on LinkedIn, the REC’s CEO posted that the Report was “looking primarily at the value of improved job matching downstream for clients and candidates” with a goal to “start a more value-led and professional services discussion with clients for the industry”.

The REC is calling for more UK businesses to prioritise recruitment as a critical part of their business success, pointing out that the overall cost of a bad hire is estimated to be three times higher than the salary paid.

“For too long, many CEOs have spoken of people as their biggest asset, but left the process of bringing staff into the business as something to be done at low cost and high speed,” said REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry. “By contrast, employers that treat recruitment as a priority issue because of the value it adds unlock competitive advantage. Bringing in the best talent boosts productivity – especially where organisations work with recruitment experts.”

Only half of workers think companies hire well

The report also highlights that British workers are sceptical about the ability of organisations to make the right hire. Only 52% of Britons surveyed think that companies do a good job of recruiting efficiently and just 47% believe the process is fair to job seekers like themselves. 

Other findings include:


  • Each year, over 300,000 unemployed people use the recruitment industry to secure a permanent role, more than twice as many as those who go through the Job Centre.

  • One in four (28%) of large businesses would consider hiring people who do not live close to the office, reflecting the shift toward a more flexible labour market as a result of Covid-19.

  • Two in three businesses (63%) said working with a recruitment agency had helped them increase the diversity of new recruits.


  • Jobs the recruitment industry matches support £29 billion in annual tax revenues, double the government’s R&D (research and development) budget.

  • Someone finds a new permanent job through a recruiter every 21 seconds.


The report drew on in-depth polls of 2,000 British adults and 500 businesses conducted for the REC by Public First, as well as a survey of REC members.


Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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