Following cautious growth during July and August of 2013, the number of hours worked by agency workers across Europe strengthened in November by 1.4 percent, year over year, according to the latest Agency Work Business Indicator (AWBI) from Eurociett (European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies).
Six of the nine member countries included in the AWBI, reported year-over-year growth in the number of hours worked by agency workers. The nine member countries account for 59.1 percent of the total European agency work market.
Only Norway and Switzerland reported decreases in the number of hours work, by 7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. The strongest year-over-year growth was reported in Poland (up 19.3 percent), followed by Denmark (up 14 percent), and Italy (up 9 percent).
In terms of revenue, Norway was the only country to report a year-over-year decline (-0.2 percent). Once again, Poland and Denmark reported the strongest growth, of 21 percent and 13 percent, respectively. In France, year-over-year growth increased to 2 percent this year from 0 percent last year. Growth in Belgium, however, slowed to 1.8 percent this year from 6.8 percent last year.
In the U.K., agencies’ billings from the employment of temporary and contract staff increased during December. Having accelerated from the month before, the rate of expansion was the sharpest in over 15 years. The growth in temp billings reflected a combination of greater demand from existing clients and a rise in new contracts.
Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, which compiled the report on the U.K. on behalf of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), commented: “Combine the latest job figures with news that business confidence has reached a new high and it’s easy to share the renewed sense of optimism amongst employers. Permanent placements alone have hit a four-year peak and with temporary hires accelerating to a 15-year high there is clearly room for corporate investment and, with it, job creation.”
The latest unemployment figures across Europe show a stable-to-increasingly-positive environment. The latest figures from Eurostat, the statistical body of the European Union, show that unemployment in the 17 Eurozone countries remained at 12 percent, unchanged since October, but slightly above the 11.9 percent recorded in December last year. The European Union as a whole, however, reported a marginal drop in unemployment across the 28 countries to 10.7 percent, down from 10.8 percent in November 2013 and down from 10.8 percent in December 2012.
Unemployment is showing a downward trend across Europe but remains above that of the United States, which fell to 6.7 percent in December 2013; down from 7 percent in November 2013, and down from 7.9 percent in December 2012.
The combination of falling unemployment and the increasing use of temporary and contract staff across Europe is likely to have a significant impact on staffing companies and ultimately companies that rely on them to fill their talent gaps. Already there has been talk of growing skills shortages and difficulties sourcing appropriately skilled candidates. The results could bring increased salaries in certain sectors and the longer time to fill vacancies.