Managers: Recruitment boom worsens shortage

After the good unemployment figures yesterday, another good news has just been published this Friday, February 14 by the Association for the employment of executives (Apec) on the employment front. According to its forecasts, about 297,000 hirings of executives are scheduled by companies in 2020, an increase of 5% compared to 2019, in a market already in near full employment (with an unemployment rate of only 3.8 % for this asset class). “After continuous growth for six years, we anticipate a stabilization of the volume of recruitments around 300,000 by 2021-2022”, specifies Gaël Bouron, deputy head of the Studies division of Apec.

This dynamic is mainly explained by the strong growth in corporate investment which, despite sluggish growth and various social movements, has been the essential driver of executive recruitment in recent years. The greater mobility of these workers, the dynamism of metropolitan areas and the increase in the rate of management in companies, also played a positive role.

150,000 net job creations in two years

If these figures are not surprising – Apec had already published similar forecasts last July – one indicator particularly attracts attention: that of net job creation for this population. Over the past two years, 150,000 management positions have been created, including nearly 75,000 last year. “An unprecedented level since 2006-2007”, points out Gaël Bouron. As a result of this structural trend, “in 20 years, 1 million executive jobs have been created”, insists Bertrand Hébert, Director General of Apec.

All sectors are affected by this increase – and particularly IT, engineering-R & D and legal, accounting and consulting activities. Only those in general distribution and communication and media recorded a decline. Unsurprisingly, it is always in Ile-de-France that the recruitment offer is the largest (50% of the forecasts of hiring of executives in 2020), even if Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine or even the 'Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes should mark notable increases of 6-7% this year.

These prospects are not necessarily good news for companies, which are still experiencing more difficulties in recruiting qualified profiles in an increasingly difficult market. Weak signal which attests to this trend: between 2014 and 2018, the average number of applications for an offer posted on the Apec website thus increased from 44 to 30. Conversely, at the same time the share of recruiters meeting difficulties increased from 61% to 66%.

“For certain companies, and in particular SMEs and mid-caps which cannot align with the packages of large groups, this can even represent a brake on growth, says Bertrand Hébert. They can play the training card well, greater autonomy or review their requirements (56% of recruitments in 2019 were subject to an adjustment, editor's note) but this is not always enough to meet short-term needs. ” Clément Devaux, CEO of Vacoa, an SME specializing in mechanical engineering consultancy, can attest to this. “In 20 months, we have gone from 2 to 36 employees and we currently have 25 offers to fill,” says the one who has just implemented a proactive policy of training and coaching in individual personal development to gain in attractiveness.

Concerns about the fate of senior managers

The very favorable economic situation enjoyed by executives on the employment front conceals wide disparities depending on the profiles. If junior profiles with less than 10 years of experience are the most sought after, “some executives, for age reasons no longer have access to employment”, points Bertrand Hébert, Director General of Apec, for whom “seniority has become a real issue.” Evidence for this is worrying figures: half of French executives are over 45, yet one in two executives would retire without a job. “About 100,000 executives are currently unemployed for a long time (for over a year, editor's note), the majority of whom are seniors,” deplores Bertrand Hébert. Catherine Corréa, Deputy Regional Delegate Ile-de-France of Apec, confirms: “Of the long-term job seekers that we support, we are over 60% senior citizens”.

According to Bertrand Hébert, the main obstacle to employment for these experienced profiles is explained by the fact that employers tend to assimilate age and high remuneration. “Which is not necessarily true. We have to work on this subject with companies, because we cannot do without half of the executives of the country.” A major social issue that does not only concern managers. The government is also conducting negotiations with the social partners on this crucial issue of the employment of seniors, in parallel with the pension reform, after the submission in mid-January of a detailed report on the subject.


This study is based on an annual survey, conducted with a permanent sample of 10,000 companies representative of the distribution by region, by size and sector of activity of private sector employees in mainland France and representing 1.7 million employees including 378,000 frames. The telephone interview was entrusted to Praxidia and took place from October 21 to December 13, 2019. The questionnaire collects the number of executive recruitments in CDI and CDD of one year and more carried out by companies from January 1 as of December 31, as well as the number of internal promotions of employees with management status and the number of departures from management. The recruitment and internal promotion forecasts for the following 12 months are also collected.

The medium-term projections (2021-2022) are based on an econometric model. The scenario proposed by Apec is based on forecasts published by the various economic institutes. A set of hypotheses concerning the evolution of three key indicators was developed (GDP, GFCF, share of executives in post in all retirements), in order to calculate the forecasts of the number of executive recruitments in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 forecast is based on the survey of companies.


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