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Statistics and Facts About the Staffing Industry

I have been on the National Board of Canada's Staffing Industry Association (ACSESS) for more than 8 years now ... and one of my beefs has been our inability to gather consistent and regular statistics that give a picture of our industry. It is something we are working on, and will correct, however there are some other sources of facts that are relevant.

Today ... at the 10th Annual ACSESS conference I was treated to a number of facts and thought that I would share some of them.

A presentation from Statistics Canada gave the latest data on our industry which is for the calendar year 2006. Canada's staffing industry is an $8 Billion industry, up 8.6% from the previous year. This means that we provide a huge number of people with jobs, we pay a lot of money in taxes, we make a major contribution to the Canadian economy and we support a huge number of charitable causes. We also represent a significant lobby capability when discussing our industry agenda with various levels of government.

Ontario has still by far the largest concentration of staffing business, representing 57% of the revenues generated, although Alberta did surpass Quebec in size representing 17.6% of the business, no doubt driven by the hot Alberta oil economy.

For those who think that the staffing industry are "fat cats" think again ... with average profitability of 3.5% (2.6% in Ontario) this industry operates with very skinny margins. This is a fact that seems out of sorts with an economy experiencing greater and greater skills shortages ... which by the laws of supply and demand should mean increasing margins.

Later in the day I listened to a debate about the industry and the President of the American Staffing Association was one of the speakers. The ASA do have strong data gathering capability and Richard Wahlquist was able to give out some very interesting statistics related to the temporary industry in the States ... much of which should be similar here in Canada.

Surprising to some, but not those in the industry, was a statistic that suggests 90% of "temporary workers" are satisfied with their staffing company experiences. This was validated in the UK and Netherlands in addition to the US. This might fly in the face of some "anecdotal" stories of disaffected temporary workers which can always be found if you look hard enough ... and clearly it is "bad news" stories sell newspapers!

75% of temporary workers saw their assignments as a bridge to something else, which might have been a career change or just a full time position ... and most of them achieved their goal. 88% of temporary workers felt that their temporary assignments added to their resume, thus making them more employable. 20% of temporary workers would not want to be anything else! Validating the fact that there is a segment of the population that enjoys the flexibility afforded by the temporary worker lifestyle, for many and varied reasons.

Less than 5% of workers work for staffing companies, meaning that 95% of workers are in full time employment with some other type of company. I would have thought that the temporary workforce would have represented a larger number, but I guess not. So ... just 5% of the workforce (and typically a rotating 5% as temps take full time employment) provide our economy with the flexibility it needs to meet the ebb and flow of work and keep Canadian companies competitive in a global economy.

This is an industry that I believe in strongly ... I work hard to represent the industry's membership on our board and will see this industry rise in prominence over the coming years as demographic pressures and skills shortages underscore the value we can bring. Its nice to have a few facts and statistics to support these views!