1H 2021 Business Services M&A Report

As the world awakens from its pandemic-induced slowdown (or in some sectors, shutdown) employers around the world are finally gearing back up, only to find a shortage of workers. For whatever reason – low pay, workplace dissatisfaction, fear of the virus, childcare needs, lack of flexibility, job security – workers aren’t flocking back to their old jobs. And if they do, they are being stalked by other employers dangling higher wages. Older workers forced out during the pandemic may never come back. And other workers are starting their own businesses. All of this is creating demand and opportunity for staffing and business process outsourcing (BPO) providers in new fields, not only traditional lower-wage arenas but also for professional and technical services. The American Staffing Association reports 40% of workers being hired by staffing companies work in higher-skilled fields, including 21% in professional or managerial positions. In April, some 4 million U.S. workers lost or quit their jobs, including 650,000 retail workers. The same month the country reported 9.3 million open jobs. In England, advertised job openings jumped 45% between March and June. Worker shortages in the U.K. are so severe business owners are asking the government to allow other Europeans to enter the country to work. Previously, opposition to allowing workers in was one of the drivers of the country’s recent break from the European Union in Brexit. In Singapore, tight border restrictions are keeping out workers who fled to rural locations during the pandemic. With so many factors in play, the traditional worker/employer relationship has been strained at best, or it may be shifting for good. As populations age, the Center for Global Development estimates there will be 95 million fewer working-age people in Europe in 2050 than in 2015…

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