Posted: 3 January 2018
Jeanine Willoughby, Project Manager, recruitment and retention reflects on a Skills for Care project focused on how we can a create a more inclusive workforce.
This year I’m fortunate to be leading a project that’s exploring how social care and health employers can become more inclusive by recruiting a workforce which better reflects their local community.
One way of doing this is by actively targeting people who are currently under-represented in the workforce. This could be, for example, people who are long-term unemployed, people with physical disabilities or long-term health conditions, ex-offenders, single parents, care leavers and ex-carers, to name but a few.
As part of the project, we’re working with five support organisations who are testing new ways the sector can support people who are furthest from the jobs market to become work ready.
I recently got on the road to visit one of these projects - Care Plus Group in Grimsby.
Part of their work is to support people who live on the East Marsh estate in Grimsby, which is one of the most socially deprived areas of England, into employment. And they do this through the focused effort of local employability officers.
It was great to see for myself how these officers work on a one to one basis with people from the estate. Each potential care worker has a personalised development plan to support them on their journey from unemployment to being work ready, and is tailored to support their own unique needs and requirements.
It was really encouraging to see that some participants only needed minimal support like writing their CV or filling in application forms. For others, it was more about accessing support to build their confidence, gain work experience and develop their interview skills.
On my visit I met Lauren* and Denise* who talked to me about their experience of the project.
Lauren, who’s a single parent and care leaver, was about to finish a work placement at a day care centre for older people, and told me how much she had enjoyed it. From our short 15 minute conversation, she had already convinced me she had lots of the values and skills we’d expect social care workers to have. She’d recently applied for a permanent care position, with support from Care Plus Group and was already practicing her interview skills with her employability officer so she was ready if the application was successful.
I also met Denise, who has a visual impairment and has been out of work for around 30 years. She told me about her placement which was working with people with learning disabilities – as soon as we started talking I could see how much she was enjoying it.
As well as their incredible enthusiasm for finding a job in social care, it was clear that they were both making full use for the support Care Plus Group were offering. As importantly, it was clear that the project had a big impact on their lives - they both spoke about how much more confident they were.
But I couldn’t help wonder, what if Lauren and Denise aren’t successful in their job applications? From previous experience we know that some employers still rate qualifications and experience higher than a person’s values, and how they behave, in the application process.
It is true that my 15 minute conversation went into nowhere near the amount of detail you’d ask someone in a full interview or pre-screening session. But here in front of me I saw two people who were so passionate and excited about the prospect of working in our sector, and I couldn’t help but keep my fingers crossed for both of them.
Now, back in the office I need to think seriously about what we need to do to convince and support employers to reach out to people from hard to reach or disadvantaged backgrounds. People who might lack formal qualifications, but do who have the right values that we’re always looking for in social care.
If you’re an employer, or responsible for recruitment, I’d really like to hear your thoughts.
It would be really helpful for this project to hear what barriers or challenges do you feel there are when employing people from hard to reach or disadvantaged backgrounds?
And what resources would you like to see to support you tap into potential new pools of talent within your own community?
Next week I’ll tell you all about my visit to Lincolnshire Care Association – keep an eye out on our blogs web pages.
* Names have been changed