Jobs supported by UK consulting sector grow by 14%

12 July 2022 3 min. read

New research from the management consulting sector’s industrial body suggests its double-digit revenue growth translated into a huge job creation drive in 2021. As collective fees surpassed the £14 billion mark, the industry added more than 12,000 staff to meet with demand.

Each year, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) uses the performance of its members to gauge the size and health of UK's management consulting market. In the past two years, this data has become a particularly important weathervane regarding the health of the market amid the pandemic.

Amended figures from the MCA now suggest that the consulting sector grew by 18% in 2021, hitting revenues of £14.4 billion (earlier in the year, it was suggested the growth rate was 16%). As the market recovers from the shock of Covid-19, digital, supply chain and sustainability concerns among clients are expected to drive further double-digit growth in 2022.

Jobs supported by UK consulting sector grow by 14%

Key to sustaining that growth will be the sourcing of leading talent – and according to the MCA’s latest research, it is a challenge the consulting sector is ready to rise to. Given the step change in demand from clients, firms have increased the number of staff they employ rapidly, up 14% with 88,000 management consultants now employed across the sector – an addition of roughly 12320. The industry is employing more graduates, apprentices and school leavers than ever before and in 2021 there was a 51% increase in graduates and 5% rise in the number of apprentices hired, primarily among larger firms.

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the MCA, said, “In the last year the consulting sector has been fortunate to experience significant growth as clients across the world have turned to the UK’s leading professional sector for expert help during a period of considerable disruption and high demand for digital transformation. This has enabled firms to invest in thousands of more jobs across the UK, opening up regional talent pools and giving more opportunities for graduates and school leavers.”

The jobs supported by the consulting industry were not only the preserve of London businesses, either. MCA member firms provide employment across the UK with 279 offices based outside of London in cities such as Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. With 47% of all employees now based outside the capital, 35% of new jobs were created outside of London. 

Diversity drive

In order to ramp up its headcount in a tightening labour market in all those regions, the consulting industry is increasingly looking to formerly marginalised sections of the talent pool. To boost those efforts, 6% more of firms are now collecting data on diversity and inclusion, while companies make efforts to open up opportunities for new joiners that were previously hard to come by. In 2020, 21% of consulting partners in the UK identified as women, and that figure rose to 25% in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of partners identifying as being from a minority ethnic background also rose 2%.  

Isacsson added, “Our unwavering efforts as an industry towards diversity and inclusion continue and the latest figures show the direction of travel remains positive but to achieve greater progress our pace of change must accelerate faster.” 

Training and development also increased across the industry, as firms made efforts to boost retention rates. MCA member firms now provide an average 7.9 days of training per year, compared to 6.3 the previous year. On top of this, firms have also invested significantly in the time and effort spent on the new Chartered Management Consultant award. With 50 firms now engaged, 4,000 consultants on the journey and over 600 consultants now successfully Chartered, the award aims to help offer a new level of standardised, quality controlled service, from the UK consulting sector.