The consulting sector in the UK, one of the biggest consulting centres in the world, is expected to achieve double digit growth both in 2023 and 2024 according to the Management Consultancies Association (MCA). Demand remains high for digital transformation services and move to the cloud, advice with deploying AI and sustainability requirements. An increase in the number of apprentices and school leavers joining the consulting industry has contributed to a 16% growth in headcount in the sector in the UK last year although this is set to readjust as the sector meets future client demand for the enhanced support required for AI, technology transformations and support with sustainability programmes.  

In recent months a number of announcements from firms have been made about jobs in the sector.  This constant evolution of the consulting industry is nothing new and the sector has always had to adapt to ensure it has the right staff with the right training and skills to meet the latest demands for expertise that clients demand. It also reflects a reduction in attrition rates when compared to last year.  

The MCA Annual Industry Report revealed that over 2,800 graduates were hired in 2022 (35% increase on 2021) alongside just under 800 apprentices, trainees and school leavers (11% increase). Overall, there has been a 16% increase in headcount growth for 2022 due to the exceptional growth post pandemic (23%) due to pent up demand from clients. Over 51,000 people were employed by MCA member firms across the UK, with a total of over 102,000 management consultants estimated across the wider industry. Medium-sized firms in particular drove headcount growth last year, recording an 18% increase (up from 10% in 2021).  

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the Management Consultancies Association, said:  

“Our latest forecasts from leaders across the market suggest that, although growth has slowed from the record peaks last year, the sector is still forecast to achieve double digit growth in 2023 and we continue to achieve record exports overseas. Given the huge fluctuations in client demand since the pandemic, some readjustments to workforces and the balances of skills within firms is expected. Our industry, which is one of the biggest consulting centres in the world, is working hard to ensure it meets future client demand and the enhanced support required for AI, technology transformations and support with sustainability programmes.”  

Consultancy firms provide employment all across the UK with 274 office locations outside London with medium sized firms accounting for more than half (162) of regional offices. Large firms have collectively increased their number of regional offices to 86 in the past year and the number of regional offices of small firms has increased to 26. Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh are the most common locations for regional offices with 1 in 3 (35%) of consultancy jobs created based outside of London while the North West and the South West hold the highest proportion of staff based in regional offices outside London (6% each). The West Midlands and the North West host the largest numbers of apprentices outside the capital. 

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the Management Consultancies Association, added:  

 “We are seeing further evidence of the increased accessibility of the industry via different paths and in every part of the UK. As well as school leavers, apprentices and graduates, the industry also continues to hire experienced consultants and more senior employees of all ages as professionals look to apply their skills in consultancy and is reflective of the changes that are being seen with clients as well.” 

As well as an average of 7.5 days training and development, younger consultants are also joining the pathway to become Chartered Management Consultants. The Chartered Management Consultant (ChMC) Accreditation is the highest recognition of a management consultant’s expertise, experience and talent given within the profession and has been developed to set and maintain the highest standards in management consulting. It has been adopted widely across the industry with many young consultants on the journey to becoming Associates. 

You can read more about the various roles available in consulting in the Young MCA ‘Day in the Life’ series at  Young MCA News – MCA. Further information on the findings can be found at MCA 2023 Annual Report – MCA