The Top UK Sectors for Growth in 2018

The beginning of a new year sparks a desire to find out everything a recruitment agency needs to know about which sectors are looking hot right now.

Research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) revealed that 67% of UK staffing agencies forecast revenue growth in 2018, up from 60% in 2017.

Many companies will be looking to niche agencies for support with talent attraction strategies, and as the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) reveals that 51% of companies are planning on growing their workforces in 2018, we look at the top sectors with predicted growth.



Demand for cyber security professionals will increase over 2018 according to research by the REC which tells us that 81% of the recruitment agencies surveys think demand will rise significantly.

The UK unfortunately saw a rise in cyber-related crime in 2017, which means we need specialists to deal efficiently with demands such as these. Recruitment agencies believe that the current workforce will not be able to meet those demands in 2018 unless changes are made.

Within IT and Technology there are so many critical skills needed, so it can be difficult for recruiters to source the perfect candidate. These shortages mean it is an exciting time for agencies to step up and to focus their efforts on attracting professionals with innovative recruitment campaigns.

For businesses already in the IT and Technology sector, 2018 looks set to be an optimistic year for growth and margins. The sector also topped the list last year, and it does not look set to change in the near future.



Recent figures published in the IHS Markit on the Purchasing Managers index, revealed a positive growth figure of 52.2%, which is a seven month high. Job creation is the strongest since June, and these are positive signals for near-term business outlook.

There is a huge skills shortage in construction, which has only been made more concerning with Brexit looming, because of recruitment, and uncertainty over new infrastructure and commercial projects.

There are many new projects planned in 2018, and future demand for staff for these projects will remain healthy, signifying that investment will return to the construction sector.

A report published by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) revealed that UK businesses are finding it ‘notably harder’ to recruit skilled staff as a result of a fall in net migration.



The demand for niche tech skill sets in Financial Technology is so high that employers are increasingly relying on contractors as opposed to seeking permanent employees. Hakan Enver, an Operations Director from Morgan McKinley, said that FinTech disruption isn’t in the future, it’s in the here and now.

The FinTech industry is set to dominate the UK economy further in 2018 and increased demand is clearly highlighted through the increase of job vacancies. Joblift reported that the number of jobs in this filed posted in the UK is going to grow by at least 5.1% over the next year.

Agencies that can source niche skill sets, such as those obtained by data scientists, in this rapidly shrinking talent pool will stand out from the rest and are in high demand subsequently.



New data by the CBI revealed that growth within the manufacturing sector is at a 30 year high, with the study attributing this growth to the weak pound meaning Eurozone economies are placing more orders with UK manufacturers.

With manufacturing becoming a Brexit winner, in the last quarter of 2017, manufacturing enjoyed its best quarter for three and a half years, and this good fortune is expected to continue.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at manufacturers’ organisation EEF said: “Manufacturers’ expectations for the year ahead point to output and export growth being maintained through this year on the back of continuing support from a burgeoning global economy.”

CBI stated in October 2017 that the number of manufacturing firms citing a shortage of workers for limiting their investment plans is at its highest for four years.

This puts agency professionals in a busy arena, and with a strong opportunity to help address the skills gap and provide worried employers with candidates who will make a positive impact on their business.



New data protection regulations will come into play this May called the GDPR, which is a legal framework replacing the 1998 Data Protection Act, and with it brings a huge 75,000 job opportunities.

Businesses across the UK are trying to work out exactly how the changes will affect them, and there has been an increasing need for the help of a GDPR expert. Therefore this specialist sector is continuously growing.

Businesses, especially those processing personal big data will be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer, Chief Data Officer, Data Manager or Data Controller to take responsibility for ensuring data protection compliance.


Although there have been challenges and uncertainty regarding the IR35, the demand for health professionals is growing rapidly and at a steady pace, showing no signs of abating.

Kevin Green at REC explains that the need for temporary nursing and medical staff is a predominant area, because of the strain on NHS Trusts. It is therefore increasingly important for recruiters to fill these vacancies, and this is unlikely to subside in 2018.

Health Education England has drafted its first NHS strategy in 25 years as a result of chronic staffing and in a bid to tackle the skills shortage. It was revealed that the NHS is short of 42,000 nurses, midwives and therapists.

HFE also warned that if the rise in illness does not recede, we will need to increase the health service workforce by 190,000 by 2027, so this sector therefore has high potential for framework providers.



Engineering is in the spotlight at the moment, with the government announcing that 2018 is the Year of Engineering, to raise awareness and tackle the engineering skills gap, widening the pool of talent for young people who want to join the profession. Although this will not be an immediate fix, it is positive news for the sector and raises awareness.

The number of engineers retiring is outpacing the number of engineers graduating, according to Engineering Recruiting Director Adam Krueger, who says that job security and stability outlook is very positive: “Right now, the most active sectors in terms of hiring are the speciality chemicals, food/agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plastics/petrochemicals sectors.”

The lack of STEM graduates over the last 10-15 years means the replacement talent pool is extremely undersized, with research by Engineering UK suggesting that 182,000 additional workers are needed to plug engineering-focused graduate and apprentice positions every year until 2022.

With a demand for around 69,000 people qualified at apprenticeship or equivalent level each year, engineering offers a very high opportunity for growth, and recruiting staff have an excellent platform to help address the skills gap.


As UK businesses are now looking to expand their workforce over this year, there is opportunity to get lots of business and grow as a company. The skills shortage means there is a lot of work to be done, and the role of a recruiter is vital in the challenge faced by employers.

To found out what Integra People can do for your recruitment needs, please call 01925 838 600 for a confidential chat.

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