The Intelligence: Value of agencies

The value of agencies for temporary workers.

Although the world of work has evolved a great deal over the past decade, temporary work has remained a significant feature of the labour market. On any given day in the UK more than 1 million people are working in temporary or contract assignments. People on flexible contracts choose to work in this way for a wide variety of reasons, from finding work and earning money more quickly, to working flexible hours and using the experience to progress into a permanent job. And many of them choose to work through an agency as the primary method of finding temporary work.

Temporary workers value agencies for their expertise, advice and support, as well as their employment services. The REC surveyed more than 4,000 workers for our upcoming report into temporary work and found that of those people who had previously secured temporary work through an agency, almost half (45%) most valued them for access to work opportunities and a third (36%) for access to flexible work.

One in three (33%) also found the information provided to them before their assignment was the most valuable service provided by their agency. Older workers especially said they found this valuable. Employment agencies and businesses are of course required by the conduct regulations to provide certain information – however, it is encouraging to know that this is valued by work-seekers, and is not just a box-ticking exercise for agencies.

But it’s not the only support that people working through agencies find helpful. One in six (16%) most value the information on employment rights and payment terms that agencies provide, rising to one in four workers under the age of 25. These younger workers also valued access to flexible work and advice on training and development significantly more than any other age group.

These important services contribute to the high levels of satisfaction that people who use employment agencies express with them. Three in five (62%) of those who had secured temporary contracts through an agency said they were satisfied with the overall service they provided. Satisfaction levels rose even higher to two in three (67%) among contractors and freelancers.

The majority of businesses are also pleased with their partner recruitment agencies. According to our ‘JobsOutlook’ report, in June-August 2019, three in four (73%) employers said they were satisfied with the overall service provided by their recruitment partners. Meanwhile, despite the tight labour market conditions, two in three (65%) said they were happy with the candidates that were presented to them by recruitment agencies.

It is clear that, despite the ongoing uncertainty and demands on both workers and businesses, recruitment agencies still have an important and valued role to play in the jobs market. At the REC, we will continue to support recruiters and help them provide valuable services and advice to their clients and candidates.

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