The European Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) market, according to Everest Group, is the second largest RPO market after North America – yet RPO may be growing faster in Europe than in any other region across the world. According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), 75% of large businesses across Europe either “have RPO arrangements in place today or are likely to ‘seriously explore’” investing in RPO over the next 2-3 years. 

Globally, also according to Everest Group, “RPO is one of the fastest growing single-process Human Resources Outsourcing (HRO) markets” – with a global growth rate of more than 25%. In short, RPO has become a “very big deal” both globally and within the European market. But two questions come to mind – just how big of a deal and why?

This week’s Talent Acquisition Fast Facts explores the European talent market, RPO in Europe and why businesses across the continent are seeking strategic talent partnerships:


According to SIA, the global RPO industry generated $3.45 billion (£2.8 billion) in revenue in 2013. This figure is expected to increase by an additional $615 million (£500 million) per year over the next 2 years.

However, according to ERE, Europe is “losing talent to the rest of the world.” At the current rate, by 2050 there will be a talent shortage (gap between talent supply and demand) of 60 million people within the European workforce.

Because Europe consists of approximately 50 countries (i.e., 50+ different cultures, labor markets and backgrounds), ERE asserts there is “no European recruitment standard.” Therefore, data and insight into the “most effective recruitment approaches” for each labor market/country is, quite simply, non-existent. Without benchmarking opportunities, companies cannot truly know what they have, what they need and where (or how) to find the best talent.

35% of organizations across the globe report difficulty filling important positions, according to Manpower Group’s 2014 Talent Shortage Survey (featuring feedback from 37,000 companies in 42 countries).

  • Specific to Europe, 27% of organizations report significant difficulty identifying and recruiting skilled workers (up from 23% in 2010).

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the top-5 jobs employers are having difficulty filling are as follows (according to the Manpower Group survey):

1.)    Skilled Trades

2.)    Engineers

3.)    Sales Representatives

4.)    Technicians

5.)    Management / Executives

RPO being on the rise across Europe makes sense, especially in light of talent shortages, rapidly increasing competition and difficulty gain full transparency into the European talent market. Many companies are burying archaic definitions of “recruitment outsourcing” and recognizing what RPO truly means: partnering with an expert to design and execute a customized process and working together collaboratively and seamlessly to transform organizations’ approaches to talent acquisition and talent management.

As noted above, 75% of large businesses across Europe either “have RPO arrangements in place today or are likely to ‘seriously explore’” investing in RPO over the next 2-3 years – compared to 62% of large North American businesses.

  • Also according to SIA, at 90%, candidate sourcing is the most-purchased RPO service. Comparatively, 18.5% of companies invest in RPO for relocation management support.
  • In 2013, 97% of RPO deals included sourcing services, 98% included screening, 96% interview scheduling, 89% included applicant tracking, 72% included creating talent communities and 68% included onboarding services. 

  • 91% of RPO providers leverage social media as a key component of their recruiting efforts, with an additional 89% using job boards and job aggregators.

In the 21st century – an age where products and services are being replicated and technology is rapidly advancing the way business is conducted – global growth in RPO indicates that organizations are realizing talent is the one true differentiator. They are seeking to separate from their competition by investing in strategic talent partnerships, realizing they can no longer afford to settle for status quo.