Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC

If you had asked me in January 2020 what I would be celebrating on International Recruiters Day 2021, I certainly would not have thought it would be surviving the year we have had! And if you had told me about that year in advance, I don’t think I would have expected the positivity that defines the industry today to be as widespread as it is.

Yet what we have seen over the past few months is a testament to the resilience of our industry, its central role in the economic recovery, and the entrepreneurship that is at the heart of every great recruiter.

As I look back on the past year, the overpowering emotion is one of pride. For all the struggles and hardships, we’ve really stepped up. Just like Life of Brian, people may ask, what have recruiters ever done for us? Well in the past year, we have certainly answered that question. Agencies have helped to place workers in essential roles in hospitals, care homes, warehouses, logistics depots, testing centres and more. Simply put, recruiters have helped to save lives and keep this country going during the past 12 months – and we should all take a moment today to acknowledge that.

As Chief Executive of the REC, I have also seen something else that has made me proud. A maturity and care across our industry that has helped people get through. From our regular Zoom calls with firms around the country, to the bit of advice given by one firm to another – we have navigated this pandemic together.

And now it’s time to get back to what we do best. Because it’s not just during times of crisis that recruiters show their worth. Earlier this year, the REC published a ground-breaking study of the contribution that our profession makes to the UK’s social and economic strength.

Every 21 seconds – the time it should take to wash your hands – a recruiter secures someone a new permanent job. Recruiters help 300,000 people out of unemployment each year – twice the number JobCentres do – and place a million into temporary roles every day. And a fifth of companies that employ temporary workers wouldn’t be able to operate without them – that’s another £61 billion of production directly enabled by recruitment agencies.

Those figures should give us all a massive boost. Because they show recruiters are at the heart of our recovery. When recruitment does well, Britain does well. And now, more than ever, the country needs our industry to succeed. We can see the way out of the pandemic, and clients will need your help as they start to re-open. Likewise, more people than ever, having lost jobs, are going to need you to be by their side – to give them the guidance and confidence they need to get back on their feet.

2021 is going to be a year of great change. Things are not going to go back to exactly the way they were before the pandemic. But as a profession, we can take a huge amount of confidence from the way recruiters have handled the past year, and know that our industry will be crucial to helping the country bounce back. Hopefully we can all walk a bit taller today – and not just because we desperately need a haircut.

Neil Carberry is the Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation