Hays Boosts Latin Recruitment as Europeans Head for Colonies

Hays Plc, the U.K. recruiter that found jobs for 250,000 people worldwide last year, is boosting revenue in Latin America as skilled European workers battle unemployment by moving to their countries’ former colonies.

“More people have moved out of southern Europe to Latin America in the past 12 months than in five years,” Finance Director Paul Venables said in a phone interview. “We’ve seen a flux of people out of Portugal and Spain to Brazil and Mexico.”

Spanish unemployment, at 24.6 percent, is the worst in Europe, as the country suffers the second recession since 2009. In Portugal, a deepening recession and a court ruling against cuts to pensions and civil-servant holiday pay are threatening the government’s deficit goals.

Hays, the U.K.’s largest professional recruitment agency, increased net fees 8 percent in the international division in the three months ended June 30, with Brazil growing 13 percent on a like-for-like and constant currency basis, Venables said. The company’s stock has declined about 8 percent in London since it said July 11 that a paucity of banking and financial services positions in the U.K. led total fees to fall 1 percent.

Latin America is the “biggest growth opportunity for recruitment” in the current economic climate and Hays expects annual revenue from the region of 50 million pounds ($77 million) by 2015, Venables said in the interview late yesterday. Global fees in the last fiscal year were 672 million pounds. Hays recently opened offices in Mexico, Colombia and Chile.

Spaniard Movement

The number of Spaniards living in Mexico increased to 94,617 last year from less than 70,000 in 2008, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, or INE. More than 100,000 Spaniards were living in Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, an increase of 28 percent in two years.

Adecco SA, the world’s biggest supplier of temporary workers, said July 6 that it’s hiring Spanish engineers to fill jobs in Germany, where unemployment is 6.8 percent. As many as 15 percent of the placements made by Hays are for workers moving countries, according to Venables. Hays increased business during the last quarter in Germany, where it leads the market and supplies workers to Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, and Henkel AG, the maker of Persil detergent.

Hays has reduced its reliance on the U.K. and Ireland to 36 percent of net fees in fiscal year 2011 from 66 percent in 2007, according to its last annual report. Sales in the continental Europe and “Rest of World” division, which includes Latin America, have doubled in that time.

In Latin America, “there’s a real demand for professional skills and a general shortage,” Venables said.

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