UK consulting sector to create 10,000 jobs by 2026

10 January 2023 4 min. read

As the war for talent continues, the management consulting industry of the UK looks to be stepping up its recruitment – with an industry report finding a 20% increase in new roles over the last year. The trend looks set to continue in spite of economic turbulence, too, with 10,000 new jobs reportedly set to be created in the coming three years.

The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) is the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK. 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 – and according to the organisation’s latest figures, the sector is set for major growth in the coming years.

Figures collected by the MCA show that nearly 10,000 new jobs have recently been announced by in-demand consultancies, as they invest in boosting their talent pipeline until 2026. This continues a sustained trend across firms of all sizes, which has seen ambitious recruitment plans launched during one of the busiest periods ever for the consulting industry. As clients turn to consultants for critical support during periods of significant change – resulting from the recession, the lingering impacts of Brexit, the pandemic, supply chain disruption, and digital transformation, among other key trends. 

UK consulting sector to create 10,000 jobs by 2026

Tamzen Isacsson, MCA Chief Executive, commented, “The UK has one of the leading management consultancy centres in the world and the strong demand globally and in the UK for our services from clients means firms are recruiting intensively to meet demand. This is positive news for our sector and provides huge opportunities for talented individuals from across the UK regardless of their background or location.”  

Indeed, the pursuit of new talent seems to be ramping up in the UK consulting space. In 2021, there was a 14% spike in headcount across the sector – but in 2022, there was a 20% increase in new role, with record opportunities for school leavers and apprentices in particular.

Looking ahead, the further 10,000 roles set to be created by 2026 could spread opportunities even further throughout the economy. More than half of the new roles will be based outside London, in cities including Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham, for example.

Naturally, large firms have seen the most substantial growth plans for headcount increase. This includes EY which plans to increase the number of consultants from 5,100 to around 10,200 people by 2026, and Deloitte which created 1,200 new consulting roles in 2021/22, with the practice forecasting around 1,500 new roles for the current financial year.   

Fellow Big Four operative KPMG saw 2,767 more new hires in 2021 compared to 1,857 in 2020 and 1,085 graduate and apprentice joiners compared to 909 in 2020, while PwC brought 5,856 new joiners into the business across the UK, with 1,418 joining through their graduates, school, and college leaver routes. And Grant Thornton recruited a record 450 trainees and increased its total number of staff by 12% to more than 5,100 last year.  

It is not just large firms getting in on the act, either. Small and medium sized MCA member firms have hired approximately 1,200 more people this year and this number is expected to increase both in 2023 and 2024 by 1,300 and 3,000, respectively. Of the roles created, over a third will be outside London with many more open to people regardless of where they are based. Over 400 of these roles in small and medium firms will be for school leavers, apprentices and graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in consulting working with a variety of clients in the public and private sector.