SThree has enjoyed double-digit fee growth from every other market but its domestic one as the London-based specialist recruiter drove home its strategy to focus on science and technology jobs beyond the UK.
The UK recruiter’s international focus comes at a time when Britain has been urged to spend an extra £1bn in further education to close its skills gap.
SThree’s strategy to turn away from its domestic market and in line with what it says are the most important markets for contract recruitment in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths appears to be paying off. Shares in the company rose more than 3 per cent in London trading on Friday.
The recruitment agency that specialises in sciences said on Friday it had improved its performance with double-digit fees growth in continental Europe and the US while Asia-Pacific rose by a fifth in the quarter to May 31.
In the UK and Ireland however fees dropped 12 per cent in the group’s second fiscal quarter. The company said 86 per cent of its net fees are generated outside the UK and Ireland, up from 82 per cent a year earlier, with the bulk coming from continental Europe and the US.
Fees from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands improved by at least 11 per cent. That is in stark contrast with the UK, which while the market showed it was “stabilising” had a 9 per cent fall off in fees in the first half.
“The scale of the Stem opportunity is both enormous and growing across our key regions and we are uniquely positioned to benefit from this,” Mark Dorman, chief executive, said, adding that expectations for the full year remain unchanged.
“Our deliberate focus on contract, a natural function of our Stem specialism, and the continued strength of our performance across key regions and sectors in our well diversified portfolio, provides resilience in today’s more uncertain market conditions, whilst also delivering strong growth over the medium term,” he added.
The improvement outside the domestic market helped drive net fees up 9 per cent overall in the first six months of its fiscal year to £163m, said the group, whose brands include Huxley and Computer Futures.
The company, one of the largest IT recruiters in Europe, had 12 per cent more staff on contract in the first half compared with a year earlier, while permanent jobs fell 1 per cent. Contracts represented 74 per cent of the group’s net fees in the six months, up from 72 per cent a year earlier.
More people went into life sciences and energy industries, the SThree report revealed, while 9 per cent fewer chose to go into banking and finance.
An independent review aimed at rebalancing education towards the half of the population that does not go to university has urged the UK government to spend an extra £1bn in further education, plus additional annual operating costs of up to £600m. The study, led by Philip Augar and commissioned by outgoing prime minister Theresa May, set out to persuade more school leavers to pursue technical and vocational qualifications.