Job agencies will see first ‘green shoots’

An upturn in activity for temporary job agencies will be one of the first signs of recovery in the employment market, according to Denis Pennel of Eurociett, the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies. But with business currently down 40% in some countries, there is no hint of an upturn.

In an interview with EURACTIV, Pennel said flexible workers were the first to be let go when the economic situation worsened, but they also stand to benefit first from any return to growth. 

“The agency work industry will be the first one to be able to create jobs as soon as the economy recovers. Temporary work agencies allow companies to manage their output fluctuations, so they will be first recruit agency workers to meet their increase in orders, while waiting to see whether this upturn is short-term or long-term,” he said. 

He said flexibility is essential for employers and the proportion of temporary staff will continue to increase over time. 

“The penetration rate of agency work – that is, the ratio between the total number of agency workers and the working population – has reached 2% in the EU. This rate will probably increase in the future, but not to the detriment of permanent contracts,” said Pennel. 

The Eurociett chief also sees agency work as a “stepping stone” into the labour market, helping unemployed people to get back into full-time employment. Indeed, temporary workers are often offered permanent contracts. 

Eurociett provides figures for the European Commission’s monthly jobs monitor, which Pennel says shows a decrease in the total number of agency workers across Europe. The sector employs three million people, and Pennel claims that 80% of these jobs would not exist were it not for the availability of a flexible workforce option for employers. 

He also notes that, on average, the use of agency work is today more developed within large companies than SMEs, due to the perceived high cost of using agencies. However, Pennel insists that recruiting temporary workers is not more expensive than recruiting a new staff member on a fixed-term contract. 

To read the interview in full, please click here

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