Textkernel has made a strategic combination with best-of-breed staffing app and portal specialist Akyla.

Akyla marks the second step in the international buy-and-build strategy of Textkernel since its management teamed up with strategic software investor Main Capital Partners (“Main”) in October 2020. Last year, Textkernel successfully acquired U.S-based competitor Sovren to solidify the group’s position as a global market leader in AI-driven parsing and search-&-match technology. 

Like Textkernel, Akyla is considered a true best-of-breed solutions provider in the HR software market. Akyla is a provider of flexible mid-office working platform solutions that enable automated recruitment, selection and efficient management of flex workers. The company offers two innovative solutions (e-UUR and Xplican) that assist customers with administrative processes involved in the management of flex workers, including onboarding, hourly registration, time interpretation, digital signing and vendor management.

The organizations foresee opportunities for a strong and unique combined product proposition that will competitively position the combination in the market. Notably, by gathering richer and more actionable data, the combination will improve the effectiveness of the search & match algorithms of Textkernel and empower staffing organizations to more effectively match candidates and jobs at the right time automatically. Candidates will enjoy a more tailored and suitable offering of potential jobs, which should lead to higher redeployment and placement rates for staffing agencies and a higher degree of job satisfaction and employee productivity for flex workers, while lowering the sourcing costs and efforts of staffing agencies.

Together, Akyla and Textkernel serve a combined customer base of more than 2,500 organizations, including staffing organizations, payrollers, corporates, job boards, HR solutions providers and other participants in the broader HR market.

Martin Schievink, CEO of Akyla, is excited to join forces with the internationally experienced Textkernel team and looking forward to the cooperation: “Textkernel is an excellent strategic match for Akyla. We share similar cultures and ambitions to help staffing organizations around the globe with our propositions.”

Gerard Mulder, CEO of Textkernel, foresees a fruitful strategic partnership with strong potential to offer a value-added proposition together with Akyla to staffing organizations and software partners across international markets.

While exploring the opportunity for cooperation the response to our ideas from customers and partners were nothing but extremely positive. That feedback, combined with our very similar cultures and go-to-market strategy and Akyla’s wish to become more internationally active, strengthened our belief that joining forces will accelerate the growth of both companies significantly.

Gerard Mulder, CEO of Textkernel

Main Capital has long been in contact with the leadership of Akyla and envisions a productive strategic combination that could bring sustainable competitive advantage, according to Pieter van Bodegraven, Partner at Main and Chair of the Supervisory Board of Textkernel: “We strongly believe in putting together driven and passionate entrepreneurs to accelerate innovation for the benefit of their clients. Over the past 20 years, this has been a key value creation driver in the successful organic and buy-and-build growth strategies we have executed together with our business partners. With Akyla and Textkernel, we combine two organizations that are both renowned for their skills and expertise within their respective adjacent domains of the HR ecosystem.”

For more information and an FAQ about the acquisition, visit our website.  

About us

Textkernel

Textkernel is an international leader in AI-driven solutions for parsing, data enrichment and matching people and jobs. Textkernel enables thousands of recruitment & staffing agencies, employers, job boards, HR software vendors and outplacement & redeployment agencies worldwide to work smarter and more effectively by creating efficiencies in the HR and recruitment process. Textkernel is headquartered in Amsterdam, with satellite offices in Frankfurt, Paris and the United States. Including Akyla, the group employs ca. 175 people.

Akyla

Akyla is a provider of flexible mid-office working platform solutions that enable automated recruitment, selection and efficient management of flex workers. The company offers innovative solutions that assist customers with all administrative processes involved in the management of flex workers. Headed by its co-founders, Akyla’s ca. 30 employees serve a loyal customer base of more than 200 staffers, payrollers and HR services providers across the Benelux and Nordics regions.

Main Capital Partners

Main Capital Partners is a leading software investor in the Benelux, DACH and the Nordics. Main has almost 20 years of experience in strengthening software companies and works closely together with management teams of its portfolio companies as a strategic partner, in order to realise sustainable growth and build excellent software groups. Main counts over 45 employees and has offices in The Hague, Stockholm, and Düsseldorf. In October 2021 Main has over 2.2 billion euros under management and invested in more than 120 software companies. These companies create jobs for approximately 4,000 employees.

We have exciting news to share!

Textkernel acquires Akyla!  We have compiled a list of questions that we anticipate that our customers, partners and other stakeholders in Akyla may have.

What is the news?

Textkernel is proud to announce that it has acquired Akyla, a Dutch-software company that develops and licences time-management, onboarding and compliance solutions for the staffing market.

Who is Akyla?

Akyla B.V. is a Dutch-software company founded in 1999 by Martin Schievink and Bart van Borssum Waalkes, located in Enschede, in the Netherlands.

Why is Textkernel acquiring Akyla?

In today’s tight labour market, one of the biggest challenges facing Staffing agencies is attracting and retaining talent. As a company, our focus is primarily on attracting and recruiting talent better

The acquisition of Akyla allows us to extend our Staffing solutions to deliver more value to our customers, beyond the recruitment stage. As a combined business, Akyla and Textkernel will be able to offer solutions that better remove friction in recruitment, onboarding, time management and retaining of employees on assignment and more effectively help in redeploying talent. 

By bringing Aklya into the Textkernel business, we are able to help Aklya expand internationally more rapidly, and offer their technology in multiple languages to our customers. In return, the access to wider labour data insights will support our combined future product development roadmap. 

The existing synergies between the companies were obvious and we share a focus on accuracy, reliability and innovation. In addition, we share mutual relationships with other software vendors, and our ways of work and how we make our products available to the market are very similar. 

In what regions does Akyla operate?

Akyla has customers in the Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordics.

What’s the added business value of combining Akyla and Textkernel?

The combined business allows us to achieve our growth potential faster. Together we are able to combine our expertises to better service our customers’ growing needs and we have increased access to wider labour data and insights.  

How does the acquisition benefit Textkernel customers?

Staffing agencies are looking for automated and integrated solutions to help them succeed in the tight labour market. For customers that have both Textkernel and Aklya solutions, they will enjoy a truly integrated solution that combines the best of both worlds with deeper insights into the labour market and a combined product offering. 

For exclusively Textkernel customers, they will have access to an expanded product solution from Textkernel, which combines our capabilities of turning data into knowledge with Akyla’s vast data access. We expect that our customers will enjoy better matching results that are tailored to their processes, and because we have access to data that lives outside of their front office application, will ensure more relevant matches at the right time.

Additionally, we will be able to help them automate their redeployment process by pulling candidate data from the back office data sources, to ensure higher quality service to their end-customers and employees, quicker and better placements, higher redeployment rates and lower sourcing costs.

How does this acquisition benefit Akyla customers?

Staffing agencies are looking for automated and integrated solutions to help them succeed in the tight labour market. For customers that have both Textkernel and Aklya solutions, they will enjoy a truly integrated solution that combines the best of both worlds with deeper insights into the labour market and a combined product offering.

For exclusively Akyla customers, they can look forward to a wider range of solutions from Akyla, starting with Textkernel solutions that seamlessly integrate with Akyla and then extending to our full best-in-class range of solutions. 

The acquisition also allows us to better support international customers, or customers with multinational ambitions, while ensuring product enhancements and a combined product roadmap.  

Additionally in the combined solution, we will be able to help them automate their redeployment process by pulling candidate data from the back office data sources, to ensure higher quality service to their end-customers and employees, quicker and better placements, higher redeployment rates and lower sourcing costs.

Are there any planned organisational changes?

No! Akyla will work as an operating unit within the Textkernel Group for the immediate future. Akyla customers will continue to be serviced by existing Akyla contacts and Textkernel will be adding highly qualified people to make sure both Akyla and Textkernel customers can expect the best possible service going forward. 

Will the Akyla management team remain with Textkernel?

Yes! All Akyla employees, including those holding managerial positions and the founders, will remain with the company. 

What about the security of your solutions?

Textkernel has reviewed Akyla’s security policies and have concluded that their security is at a good level. Textkernel will support Akyla in becoming ISO27001 certified and further improve their IT security standards. 

How can I buy Akyla or Textkernel solutions?

Please reach out to your account manager who will be happy to assist you with purchasing Akyla or Textkernel Solutions.

Should you have any other questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your account manager, marketing, or support through the usual channels.


While demand for labor remains high across the board, the retail sector in particular has been hard hit. 

Retail remains part of the bedrock of the US economy, with roughly 15.4 million employees, or one out of ten workers, employed in a retail job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes retail one of the biggest industries in the US, and despite the pandemic, demand for retail workers has stayed strong; in 2021, employment in the US retail industry grew by 2%, while total employment in the US grew by only 0.7%. 

At the same time, the retail labor market has experienced dramatic upheavals. New data from Textkernel’s Jobfeed, the labor market data resource for HR and recruiters, shows that while total employment has risen by 300,000, nearly 7.5 million workers in the US retail space left their jobs in 2021. If that doesn’t sound dramatic enough, consider that it also means more than half of all retail employees in the US left their jobs in 2021. 


Retail workers have left their jobs for a variety of reasons, including low pay, poor working conditions, health concerns related to the pandemic, and burnout. Understandably, resignations rose heading into the holiday season, with the added stress of increased crowds convincing more workers to leave their retail jobs. Despite the wave of resignations, jobs added in the US retail sector reached a record level of nearly 10 million in 2021.

>> Read more


Our customers

The latest numbers from Textkernel’s Jobfeed tool show that the UK retail industry saw a decline in the retail workforce in Q3 of 2021, with 129,000 fewer jobs than the same time in 2020.

Understandably, given that the pandemic shut down many stores and prevented foot-traffic, the development in the UK retail industry has consistently lagged behind the development of the UK’s total employment figures, as the graph above shows. (Note as well that over the course of the pandemic UK consumers have tended to spend more money on expensive, one-off purchases, including travel and leisure goods (The Guardian, 2022)).

High demand for new personnel in the UK retail sector

Nevertheless, the demand for new personnel in the UK retail sector remains very high. In the fourth quarter of 2021, there were 355,000 retail job openings, an increase of 90% compared to the same quarter last year. Furthermore, 10% of all job postings in the UK are for retail positions.


One important insight from the data is that the retail industry in the UK is currently experiencing a high level of turn-over, as employment rates decrease while the number of job postings is increasing quickly. Quit rates were highest heading into the holiday season, with over 720,000 retail workers quitting their
jobs in August (Charged Retail, 2021), though workers continue to leave the sector, with a recent survey suggesting that 28% of all retail employees in the UK want to quit their jobs (InsightDIY, 2022).

Our customers

Summary

In times of candidate scarcity, there’s a need for skill-based, rather than role-based hiring. This can be facilitated by Textkernel’s profession-skill ontology, which enables understanding the relationship between any two roles in terms of overlapping skills and skill gaps. Extending this analysis to the entire labor market, it becomes clear that the skill sets underlying roles in different professional domains are closer to each other than one might suspect. In fact, we come to the striking finding that all professions are at most six job transitions away from each other.

Decomposing professions into skills

In a labor market where candidates are increasingly scarce, there’s a need for the adoption of skill-oriented hiring practices. That’s because conversion potential is significantly greater when hiring is done based on what people are capable of doing, rather than what job titles they’ve held. In other words, job transitions should be understood in terms of the skills that are transferable from one job to another, and those for which upskilling will be needed. This is what such an analysis would look like for a transition from Data Analyst to Data Scientist.

Zooming out: the labor market as a graph

How do we get there? For over a decade, Textkernel’s R&D team has worked on structuring profession and skill data into taxonomies, which capture relations between them, and the different ways they can be verbalized (synonyms, acronyms, etc.). More recently, we have used a database of hundreds of millions of vacancies to learn associations between professions and skills. This results in what we call a profession-skills ontology or knowledge graph

When we zoom into a section of the knowledge graph, clusters of jobs and skills become apparent. These clusters contain roles that share many skills, and skills that are associated with similar roles. In the figure above, the cluster on the right contains marketing roles and skills, while the roles and skills on the right are in the sales domain. In between these two clusters, we see skills that are shared by marketing and sales jobs, such as Customer Value Propositions and Lead Generation. These can be considered transferable skills for those who want to switch from a marketing to a sales job or vice versa. 

This is what the graph looks like when we zoom out further:

Limitless career paths in 6 job transitions

The knowledge graph is not only fun to stare at, it also yields interesting insights into the labor market. In particular, it shows all professions can be reached from all other professions through transferable skills. Closer inspection of the graph gives rise to the observation that the famous six degrees of separation rule does not only apply to people, but also to professions:

All professions in the labor market are at most 6 job transitions away from each other!

(assuming that a job transition is enabled by at least three overlapping skills)

Does this sound wild? Have a look at this example, which shows a career path from Physics Teacher to Marketing Manager:

Or an even more extreme example: how could a recruiter become an air conditioning technician?

Of course not all of these job transitions would be equally straightforward – most of them require some form of upskilling. But in the current labor climate, that’s becoming the norm anyway: candidates who seamlessly fit a role are virtually nonexistent, and hires are often done in combination with a tailored training program. The figures above mainly show that having high-quality data on profession-skill relations helps to see options for internal mobility, succession planning and outplacement, which would otherwise go unnoticed. It opens our eyes to mobility options that aren’t obvious when we’re fixated on job titles and previous roles.

Would you like to know more about Textkernel’s profession-skill ontology? Check out the website or request a free demo.

As a region, the United Kingdom is reeling from the need to hire. Almost nine in 10 managers (89%) said their business currently has vacancies and more than half (55%) said finding new staff is harder now than before the pandemic hit, according to Bloomberg.  U.K. businesses have seen rising numbers of employee resignations during 2021, and many employers are preparing for more resignations as the hiring crunch continues in 2022.

Open Recruiter Positions: >12,000

This urgency for talent is exacerbated by a huge increase in the number of open positions for recruiters themselves. According to a new study by Textkernel, there was a significant rise in job listings for these roles both in corporate/direct hire positions as well as in staffing and recruitment agencies. 

At the close of the third quarter, there was a total of 12,100 recruiting positions open across the UK. Staffing and recruitment agencies saw the majority of those positions, with 6,500 posted jobs. Direct hires accounted for 5,600 recruiter openings.

These numbers represent enormous growth.

Where the Gaps Are

Most of the top industries across the UK have more openings for recruiters than they have applicants. The top five industries, however, that have the most positions open are:

The industries with fewer than 100 open recruiting positions were utilities, Pharmacy/Chemicals, Facility/Cleaning, Agriculture/Fishing, and Administration/Call Centers (where only 9 positions were listed). 

As of November 2021, 8% of open positions for recruiters came from these 10 organisations:

OrganisationCategoryJobs
NHSHealthcare / Welfare510 
Amazon.com, IncTrade / Retail112 
Womble Bond DickinsonBusiness services  96 
ButlinsTrade / Retail  47 
Voyage CareHealthcare / Welfare  47 
PwCBusiness services  44 
Devoteam S.AIT  38 
The Gap, Inc.Trade / Retail  38 
Citigroup Inc.Finance / Insurance  33 

Staffing and recruitment agencies’ top 10 companies had 22% of all the open recruiter positions. Those companies were as follows:

Regional Insights

By the numbers, the larger the employment base of a region, the stronger the need for recruiters. To illustrate: more than 1/4 of all recruiter jobs are found in the greater London area. Of the top 10 highest numbers, 9 regions were in England and just one in Scotland, although Edinburgh is number 11 and not far behind Glasgow. 

RegionDirect EmployersAgencies
Greater London3,4003,800
Manchester650900
West Midlands425725
City and Borough of Leeds300500
Hertfordshire250330
Surrey200280
Hampshire150270
Sheffield140240
Kent125240
Glasgow City160200

Transferrable Skills? 

With this kind of recruiter demand, now may be an opportune time for professionals in other roles to retrain and take on new positions in recruiting. To this end, an analysis of the skills that employers are searching for is in called for.

Textkernel’s analysis of both professional and soft skills included in job descriptions lead us to consider which careers may be a good jumping point. Our interpretation of the data indicates that people with experience in sales, communications, consulting, and customer service may be strong candidates. Consider the following skills that appear in each respective percentage of skill requirement:

Professional SkillDirect Employer/CorporateStaffing/Recruitment Agency
Stakeholder Management28%21%
Administrative Operations20%22%
Social Media23%18%
Sales16%17%
Candidate Experience22%12%
Customer Service14%13%
Human Resources14%11%
Coaching and Mentoring15%10%
Innovation16%9%
Consulting13%9%

Staffing firms and direct hires have more emphasis on different skill sets. For example, candidate experience is more important for direct employers than at staffing firms, as are skills such as innovation, coaching, and mentoring. Yet we’ve also seen that, across the board, data skills are in high demand although seldom included in job descriptions.

High Demand, Across the Board and the Pond

Demand for recruiters is happening at scale, across industries, and around the world, according to LinkedIn. In fact, job postings for recruiters on LinkedIn have steadily increased since the beginning of the year and have surpassed pre-pandemic levels – in the UK and the US. 

The post-pandemic growth percentages are quite different in the US. While direct employers have doubled the number of recruiter job listings over a three-year period in the States, the UK’s corporate recruiter listings are 3x those at pre-pandemic levels. Similarly, US agencies doubled the number of open recruiter positions, but in the UK the number topped 500%. 

The striking difference is in the sheer numbers of jobs available for recruiters:

USUK
Direct Hire/Corporate5,600206,000
Staffing/Recruiting Agencies6,500171,000

Location no longer is the driver. Whether the organization is in the US or the UK, in Maine or Massachusetts, Textkernel will be watching and reporting on trends in the industry.

Recruiting Recruiters: Looking Forward

There is currently no indication that the tight labor market will loosen up significantly in 2022. Certain economic pressures, such as from the expected rise in interest rates, may dampen some growth, yet job expansion will be offset by continued baby boomer retirement, upskilling needs, and global competition.

Staffing firms and direct employers alike will be using the restricted pool of applicants more intensively. Applicants that have applied for one specific job, for example, could also be matched on other open jobs at the same organization. Some large corporations and staffing agencies find that the numbers alone require greater process automation. 

Remote workers may help the savvy company fill its open positions. But equally important will be the need to focus more on retaining existing staff and identifying internal candidates more frequently. Additionally, greater attention will need to be paid to those who have been recruited, assuring their commitment with pre-onboarding and regular communication.

AI can help HR with all of these recruiting needs.  If your organization could use greater intelligence, whether it’s market insights or artificial intelligence, Textkernel is ready to help you see your success rates soar. Schedule a demo. We’d be pleased to share more details about our technology, how our Jobfeed tool helps you gather the real-time job market data, deliver great talent acquisition and management solutions.

The struggle to fill the talent pipeline has continued ever since the global pandemic struck!

As if that weren’t enough, we now are struggling to fill the roles of those team members that can help us recruit needed talent.

New data from Textkernel’s Jobfeed, the labor market data resource for HR and recruiters, shows that the United States is in dire need of people with these skill sets. In fact, as of Q3 in 2021, direct employers had a 123% increase in recruiter job listings over a three-year period; staffing or recruitment agencies saw a 131% increase in recruiter positions over the same period.

Staffing Agencies and Direct Employers Alike

As of November 2021, there were more than 206,000 corporate recruiter positions available. The greatest concentrations were in the professional, scientific, and technical services industries, with nearly 38,000 jobs listed, or 18% of the total. Not surprisingly, transportation and warehousing recruitment positions were next in line, with almost 21,000 openings, or 10% of the total number of listings.

The top three corporations with the most recruiter positions open were:

Staffing and recruitment agencies also illuminated the tight market by listing more than 171,000 recruiter roles as open as of November 2021. The three agencies with the greatest number of vacancies for recruiters were:

Stately Insights

By the numbers, it’s clear that the states with the greatest populations have the greatest number of openings. But these are also the states with the greatest concentration of workers in the top markets: professional/scientific/technical and transportation/warehousing.

Figure 3: Recruiter Demand Per State

California led the country with the most recruiter job listings, at 26,800. Of those, 16,630 were direct employers and 10,150 were for agency roles.  

Texas and New York were next in line, with 21,200 and 19,800 total recruiter openings respectively. 

Direct employers in Texas had 12,800 recruiter roles posted; New York had 12,700. Agencies in Texas listed 8430 talent agents and New York agencies listed 7100.

Skills in Demand

As recruiters know, keywords are key to identifying the perfect match for a role. It’s no wonder then that the word recruitment was used 55% of the time as skills required in the job description for direct employment roles. Human Resources, on the other hand, was used only 23% of the time, indicating that perhaps corporate hiring might be happy to poach from those with agency experience. 

A similar percentage was seen in the percentages of word choice by agencies, with recruitment used 52% of the time, and Human Resources used only 18% of the time. Certain skills, such as sales and customer service, lend themselves more to agency recruiters than to corporate recruiters.  

Strong communication skills remain the most sought-after traits for recruiters. The following top ten soft skills are required by those hiring:

Skill Direct EmployersAgency
Communication46%42%
Self-Motivation35%32%
Teamwork22%18%
Strategic Thinking23%15%
Hardworking/Dedicated21%16%
Networking18%17%
Coordinating19%15%
Attention to Detail18%15%
Leadership19%12%
Passion17%12%

As we compare skills required by recruiting firms versus direct employers, strategic thinking appears to be a skill that seems to be much more important for recruiters at direct employers. This differential is also seen in demand for leadership skills and organizational commitment. 

High Demand, Across the Board

Demand for recruiters is happening at scale, across industries, and around the world, according to LinkedIn. In fact, job postings for recruiters on LinkedIn have steadily increased since the beginning of the year and have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. 

Because the pace is fast and the demand is high, corporations and agencies alike are increasingly looking for experienced talent. There is little time to get those with less expertise up to speed, as there are so many jobs to be filled.LinkedIn states that before COVID only one-third of recruiters were coming from other recruiting roles; since COVID, that share has jumped to 59%. 

Whether the recruiter specializes in hospitality, where there were 5,456 recruiter positions open in the US, or in technology/professional services, where there were 37,828 recruiter roles to be filled, it’s obvious that recruiters are in the catbird seat just as candidates are in any field.

High Demand, Across the Ocean

Textkernel has also gathered and analyzed data about the increased need for recruiters in the UK. The increase in available positions, as a year-over-year percentage, was even greater than that of the US but disproportionately higher for agency recruiters. Corporate/direct hire saw a 309% increase in recruiter position postings between 2019 and 2021; Agency listings increased by 513% in the same period.

Location no longer is the driver. Whether the organization is in the US or the UK, in Massachusetts or Manchester, Textkernel will be watching and reporting on trends in the industry.

Recruiting Recruiters: Looking Forward

There is currently no indication that the tight labor market will loosen up significantly in 2022. Certain economic pressures, such as from the expected rise in interest rates, may dampen some growth, yet job expansion will be offset by continued baby boomer retirement, upskilling needs, and global competition.

Staffing firms and direct employers alike will be using the restricted pool of applicants more intensively. Applicants that have applied for one specific job, for example, could also be matched on other open jobs at the same organization. Some large corporations and staffing agencies find that the numbers alone require greater process automation. 

Remote workers may help the savvy company fill its open positions. But equally important will be the need to focus more on retaining existing staff and identifying internal candidates more frequently. Additionally, greater attention will need to be paid to those who have been recruited, assuring their commitment with pre-onboarding and regular communication.