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Rise of the Planet of the Agencies

By February 11, 2016One Comment

I’m reading a book at the moment called All Day Long – A Portrait Of Britain At Work by Joanna Biggs.  I’m only onto the third chapter but already I can tell it’s going to be a fascinating read, something to reveal how my home country has changed over the ten years I’ve been in New Zealand, but also from a professional recruitment and employment point of view too.

I was particularly struck by one passage in the chapter about the working life of a potter in Stoke:

“Alan and Janice’s working lives belong to the ‘pots, pits, Mich’ era of Stoke-on-trent, where people worked on the pot banks, down the pits, or in the Michelin tyre factory.  It’s a period that ended in 2008; now ten people apply for every job advertised at the factory, because otherwise work is in call centres or recruitment companies.”

Such a casual, throwaway comment, but loaded with silent commentary about the status of recruitment agencies in the UK.  It seems nonsensical that if work is desperately short, then the only other option is to work in recruitment.  What exactly would you do, as a recruiter, in a town where 10 people apply for every job in a factory?  How would you add value in that kind of scenario?

And how did working in a recruitment company become something so undesirable, that you would rather try your luck getting a factory job first?

It does seem, however, that many, many people are jumping onto the recruitment roller-coaster in the UK these days.  Research from Sonovate reveals that last year 5,110 new recruitment agencies launched in the UK.

Now there’s a number to drain the blood from the face of many a jittery in-house recruiter in New Zealand.  No wonder they put their phones straight to voicemail most mornings.

I would dearly love to add a comparison to our New Zealand recruitment industry, but alas there is no substantive data along these lines.  I was asked by an Australian business how many recruiters there are in New Zealand recently.  If anyone does have access to this kind of data please do let me know!

Anecdotal evidence (which really is my currency anyway), would suggest a similar trend is emerging in New Zealand too, although obviously on a smaller scale (thank goodness say the in-house peeps).  We’ve recently commented on the number of overseas recruitment firms making moves into New Zealand and opening up new entities here.  This, combined with ubiquity of technology, the (reported) ease of access to the industry and the desire to launch “lifestyle” recruitment agencies from home, means that almost every week a new agency brand is opening up in New Zealand too.

In the UK the rise of agency numbers surfed along on the top of a 9.7 percent rise in recruitment industry turnover (to £31.5 billion).  I wonder whether the same could be said for the NZ industry, or whether there are simply more and more agencies to spread an increasingly dwindling pot of agency-spend money around.

Happy Friday everyone and bring on the 5-day week next week!

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Ahmad says:

    I just started my junoir year in highschool and I was wondering if its too early for me to be contacting coaches? Also what should I do to get my name out to coaches? Is it possible for coaches to scout my travel team and not my highschool team?