By Indranil Sarkar
(Reuters) -Hays, one of the world's biggest recruiters, said on Thursday it expects a shortage of skilled labour and higher wages to double the fees it earns from filling vacancies in the information technology sector in the next five years.
The comments, which came after the company reported an almost 40% jump in fees for the three months to the end of June, are another sign of sustained recovery in the recruitment industry after it was hammed by the pandemic last year.
Demand for new hires has picked up as easing restrictions and successful vaccination drives provide an economic boost.
"We have a clear strategy in place to double the size of the fees earned in the IT sector from 250 million pounds to about 500 million pounds over the next 4 to 5 years," Chief Financial Officer Paul Venables told Reuters on a call.
IT accounted for almost a quarter of Hays' total net fees in its fiscal year to the end of June.
"We are strengthening management, adding consultants and moving into more sub-specialism in the sector," Venables added.
Hays, which focuses on white-collar jobs, said fees reached their highest levels in June since the start of the pandemic, with the UK & Ireland surging 48% in its final quarter from a year earlier.
Rivals PageGroup and Robert Walters lifted their annual targets last week owing to the rebound.
Hays, said it expects operating profit for the 12 months to June 30 to be ahead of market expectations at 95 million pounds ($131.58 million). Last year it reported an operating profit of 135 million pounds.
Shares in the mid-cap company have gained over 15% in value so far this year after slumping 22% in 2020. They were 4.5% lower by 1014 GMT, with the wider index down 0.4%.
Hays said its consultant headcount rose by 6% in the quarter, and by 4% year-on-year, and expects it to increase by a further 5% next quarter.
($1 = 0.7220 pounds)
(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Kirsten Donovan)