Over the years the private employment services industry has grown to provide a variety of labour market services. Its history dates back to the 19th century, but the industry truly started to grow after the second world war. As labour was in short supply, private employment agencies started to operate to fill gaps within labour markets by matching workers with employers.
The private employment services industry provides a wide range of HR services; the major ones being:
The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world in 2020 has posed an unprecedented, major challenge to economies and societies around the world. It has severely impacted the private employment services sector which has been working hard to weather the crisis. The sector is also instrumental to the economic recovery. The immediate first step is to enable workers to resume work in the greatest health and safety conditions. But to enable a sustainable economic recovery in the longer-term, workers, businesses and society must be better prepared to work in more fluid and agile situations.
The World Employment Confederation has set up a dedicated task force for its members to pool their expertise on these two dimensions and to come up with solutions and recommendations that can be implemented in cooperation with public authorities, other economic sectors, trade unions and society as a whole. Read more on our dedicated webpage.
The World Employment Confederation produces its own research in order to increase knowledge about the private employment services industry.
The World Employment Confederation engages in several projects with external partners to further explore the evolution of labour markets and the role of the private employment services industry in the changing world of work.
Boston Consulting Group
This study demonstrates the potential of private employment services to enable adaptation to seasonal, cyclical and structural changes in the labour market.
Bain & Company
Focusing on the six largest European markets at the time (France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain), the research concludes that the private employment services industry provides an engine for job creation and economic growth, while also efficiently contributing to transitions and transformations in the labour market.
This study looked at the industry and its workers from a more qualitative perspective. Findings show that workers engage with agencies in order to find permanent employment, as well as to screen possible employers, gain work experience and to top-up their income. User companies primarily aim to counter market fluctuations by increasing workforce flexibility, but also use the service to screen new staff.
McKinsey & Company
The first piece of strategic research on this scale into the employment services industry points out that if regulation were updated and restrictions on the use of agency work lifted, the industry could account for up to 10% of the employment growth target set out under the European Union’s Lisbon Objectives.
At European level, the World Employment Confederation is also involved in research projects through the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue for the Temporary Agency Work sector. These projects are conducted jointly with UNI-Europa, the trade union for agency workers. To find out more, visit WEC-Europe’s website.