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Employment of executives in France: an APEC study is optimistic for 2024

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“The level of executives’ employment is high, but the momentum is slowing down.” This is the title of a prospective study from APEC (the French association for the employment of executives) published in April, which explains that an employment of executives in France, supported by services with high added value, and specifically computer science, should continue growing by 2% in 2024. With an estimate of 337,000 jobs considered by businesses, recruitments should continue to grow, even though the pace is slowing down.

The objective of the APEC, a joint body (businesses/central trade union organisations), is to support executives and young graduates throughout all the key steps of their professional career and help businesses find the skills they need. To reach this goal, the APEC publishes an array of tools such as this yearly study on the employment of executives based on a permanent sample of 8,200 business representative of the regional distribution, by size and industry of employees from the private sector in mainland France, representing 1.4 million employees including 345,500 executives.


A new record for 2023


The APEC study starts with a track record of the year spent to conclude that “the executives labour market stayed buoyant in 2023” and settles “well above the expected 300,000 recruitments”. Indeed, companies recruited about 331,000 executives in 2023, a 7% growth over one year, a “new all-time record”. After the sharp pickups registered during the post-Covid period (+18% in 2021 and +15% in 2022), the executives employment trend has registered once again its usual pre-Covid level last year.

More precisely, services with high added value, i.e. IT businesses, R&D engineering, consultancy, banking and insurance, which stayed the most active. But, the APEC underlines that “the good news came from industry”, with a very positive conclusion in 2023 (+15%), due among others to “a pickup effect in car manufacturing and aeronautics”. However, the association says, “trade and construction are lagging behind”. Overall, French regions benefited from this good trend, and particularly three of them: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie and Pays de la Loire, registering the sharpest growths.


Growth expected in 2024 despite a slight shrinking


The APEC adds that though in 2024 economic growth “doesn’t have the best prospects, due to a geopolitical context that is a factor of instability and investment impacted by a sharp rise of interest rates in 2022 and 2023”, forecasts shows that the volume of executives’ recruitments should continue to grow slightly, with 337,000 jobs under consideration. According to the APEC, the executives’ employment trend should slow down, with recruitments growing by 2% in 2024, according to businesses in the study.

However, this growth shows “differing situations according to industries”: services with high added value and industry should continue to grow, but “distribution, construction and a few services such as real estate are much less concerned”. In detail, services with high added value should continue to be very active, with about 190,000 recruitments planned in 2023, a 4% growth. Indeed, IT business, by far the first contributor, should grow by 6% with 76,200 employments of executives. R&D engineering, legal activities, accounting activity, consultancy, and banking-insurance should also register growth by +2% and +4%. According to APEC forecasts, in this industry, only communication and medias should decrease (-6%). Regarding industry, after an “outstanding year 2023” (+15%), industrial businesses “show an optimism mixed with cautious for their forecasts”, even though they expect the employment of about 47,000 executives, a 4% growth. In other services, “the picture has more shades”, even though 60,750 recruitments are still expected. APEC thus underlines that a few “still managed to jump onboard the growth train”: health and social action (+3%), hotel and restaurant management, leisure (+2%), while “others are left behind”, such as real estate, which undergoes “an all-time crisis” (-30%).


Favoured industries and profiles


As far as recruitment is concerned, the APEC points out that almost all of the executive jobs will specifically grow in IT, R&D and sales job families. These three functions, says the association, “will account for 53% of all planned recruitment”. Unsurprisingly, APEC continues, “recruiters will continue to favour IT managers, with 67,650 new hires expected”. The IT sector is facing “a long list of challenges related to the digital transformation of businesses, cybersecurity, the rise of new technologies (particularly artificial intelligence and generative solutions) and the development of cloud-based solutions”.

Sales executives are expected to account for a significant proportion of recruitment in 2024 (17%), while R&D executives, with 52,210 new hires expected, will be particularly in demand in the electrical and electronic equipment, automotive and aerospace sectors. In terms of profiles, the APEC study notes that in 2024, nearly 6 out of 10 new hires will be managers with between one and 10 years’ professional experience, profiles favoured by recruiters. However, the APEC concludes that “young graduates with less than a year’s experience will also benefit from the positive trend in the executive job market in 2024”. About 54,000 recruitments are expected (16% of all employments), targeted by businesses in communication and medias (26%), IT and telecommunication activities (23%) and R&D engineering (22%).


Explore more: 

Read the APEC study


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