Key Findings

As labour market enablers, members of the World Employment Confederation contribute to better functioning labour markets by:

Enabling work:
Acting as social integrators and inspiring hope among workers and companies.

Enabling adaptation:
Working as agility creators and building stakeholder confidence

Enabling security:
Being a trusted labour market advisor to workers and companies and building trust.

Enabling prosperity:
Driving growth in the economy creating a sense of pride.
Labour market enablers
Members of the World Employment Confederation cover a wide range of HR services, including agency work, direct recruitment, career management, RPO and MSP. Through all HR services, the employment industry increases labour market participation rates, it helps companies remain competitive within the global economy and creates decent jobs that would otherwise not exist.
Representing a broad range of HR Services
In 2016, the employment industry generated €491 billion of sales revenue worldwide. 5 countries (the USA, Japan, the UK, Germany and China ) made up the majority of the revenue. Of all revenue generated in 2016, 71% was from agency work, 20% from MSP, 8% from direct recruitment, with the remaining 1% coming from RPO and Career Management.

143, 000
employment and recruitment agencies

1,9 million
internal staff to help people navigate the labour market
Global market size (sales revenue) 491 bn€
In 2016, the employment industry generated €491 billion in revenue worldwide, mostly driven by agency work accounting for € 350 billion. Agency work is growing in many markets in Europe with the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all experiencing significant growth compared to the previous year and compensating for a slowdown in the UK. Japan continues to experience accelerating growth in agency work (8% compared to 7% the year before) while growth in the US, the largest agency work market, remains stable. The direct recruitment market rose slightly to € 37.8 billion, confirming its trend towards a more profitable and faster-growing HR service.

In 2016, both MSP and RPO continued to grow, with an increase of 11% and 13% compared to last year, generating € 97 billion and € 3,4 billion respectively, although such growth is flattened by the Euro/US Dollar exchange rate.

This overview reflects the positive role that HR services companies play for economies, individuals and enterprises. Acting as social integrators, agility creators, trusted labour market advisors and growth drivers, the 143.000 employment agencies the World Employment Confederation gathers – supported by its 1.9 million staff give hope, develop confidence, build trust and deliver pride to both individuals and user companies.

*Exchange rate US dollar – Euro: 0,83
In 2016, the employment industry helped around 56 million people access
labour markets around the globe.
As illustrated in this ranking, the 15 largest countries in terms of revenue in agency work represent 90% of the global market in 2016. The US market accounts for 42% of the global market and is by far the largest. The USA, Japan, China, Germany and the UK account for 75% of the total revenue, clearly showing agency work is still dominated by a handful of countries worldwide.
Top 15 countries ranked by sales revenue in Agency Work
Although agency work can be found on all 5 continents, the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and China represent most of the total turnover. This table gives an overview of the penetration rate of agency work in the best performing countries. The success of agency work can be explained by the fact that it creates added value for the worker, the employer, the labour market and society as a whole.
Penetration rate by country (2016)
The global direct recruitment market in 2016 was worth an estimated €37,8 billion. The USA remains by far the largest market in direct recruitment with the United Kingdom the largest and oldest market in Europe (in sales).

The contribution per country breakdown saw the following top 10:
Top 15 countries ranked by sales revenue in Direct Recruitment (2016, in bn€)
The global RPO market in 2016 was worth an estimated €3,4 billion. The market grew by 13% globally, with a consistent increase in all regions. North America is the largest market accounting for 44%, followed by Europe (30%) and APAC (23%). South America experienced a tremendous growth, although it accounts for a mere 3% of the global market.
RPO market growth (2016 in bn€)
The global Career Management market reached €2,7 billion in 2016, which represents a small downturn compared to the previous year. The decline to some extent is due to the recovery of the economy in markets where outplacement, the process of accelerating career transition for displaced employees is the most established. The regions where Career Management is the most well established are North America and Europe, followed by the Asia Pacific region.
The Career Management market
The global MSP market in 2016 was worth an estimated 97 € billion. The United States leads the field unrivalled, accounting for more than half of the market alone, followed by the UK (14%) and Australia (4,2%). The top 10 countries listed below account for more than 80% of the global MSP market.
The MSP Market