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World – Private employment services lead the way for global economic recovery

25 February 2014

In 2013, the Private Employment Services (PrES) industry reported its strongest results since the beginning of the recession in 2008. The USA, Japan, and Europe, together worth 82% of the worldwide PrES industry market, all reported a return to growth.

In November 2013 the US Staffing Employment Index reached 102, its highest position in six years and a notable growth of +6.9%, year-on-year. In Q3 2013 the Japanese temporary staffing market hit a record high since 2008, and now employs 1.1 million agency workers, equating to growth of +26% compared to Q3 2012. In Europe, the monthly Agency Work Business Indicator entered positive growth (+1.4% in November) for the first time since 2011.

These are some of the figures published in the Annual Economic Report from Ciett, the International Confederation of Private Employment Services. The report also reveals further insights about the industry and agency workers around the world. Globally in 2012, almost 36 million people were employed as agency workers, filling about 11.5 million full-time positions in an industry worth €299.3 billion (USD 411.2 billion). On average, this accounts for about 0.9% of the total working population, also known as the penetration rate of agency work.

Fred Van Haasteren, Ciett President, commented: “The PrES market is considered to be a leading economic indicator, as it directly correlates with market volatility. These positive results for 2013 are welcome news as PrES leads the way in economic recovery. This will ultimately benefit job-seekers, employers and economies worldwide.”

One important characteristic of agency workers, as reported by Ciett, is that on average they are young, with 61% under the age of 30. The fact that only 32% were employed before undertaking agency work shows that agency work supports the transition from education-to-work and from unemployment-to-work. Seven out of 10 (68%) agency workers gained a permanent, full-time contract after working in temporary positions and only 14% returned to unemployment after agency work. Around 22 million young people were employed as agency workers in 2012.

Mr van Haasteren added that despite the ongoing concern of youth unemployment, ‘agency work continues to be an active part of the solution and a stepping stone into the labour market. It is positive to see the high numbers of youth taking the initiative to up-skill themselves and gain vital experience in a tough market.”

The report also shows that employers use agency workers for a range of reasons. These include the possibility to effectively deal with peaks in the work load, replacing absent staff, for short-term projects, and to hire workers in an easy and cost efficient way. Approximately three-quarters (74%) of employers report that they would not consider hiring permanent workers as an alternative to agency workers.

Agency workers report high job satisfaction; 80% of agency workers would recommend it to family or friends, and 83% are satisfied or very satisfied with their job as an agency worker. Agency work can also provide a stepping stone to permanent work, greater flexibility and financial incentives.flexibility.

Denis Pennel, Ciett Managing Director, stated: “There is a variety of reasons for employers and employees to pick agency work. This demonstrates that agency work increasingly complements the traditional direct employer-employee full-time, permanent relationship. Customised career paths and agile organisations are the response to global economic uncertainty and the speed of 21st century business.”

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