Seeing potential: widen your talent pool

The vacancy rates in adult social care are well documented. It is widely recognised that there are groups of people who are either under-represented in the social care workforce or who may experience barriers to moving into work, and not everyone has recent experience or qualifications to support them.

People from all backgrounds can have the right values to work in social care and bring a wealth of perspectives, ideas and 'lived experience' to your workforce.

Taking an open approach to your recruitment can help to:

  • recruit from a wider talent pool
  • attract a diverse range of candidates for your roles
  • hire people previously underrepresented in your workforce.

In turn this can benefit your organisation, existing workforce and, most importantly, people who need care and support. 

Our resources, guidance and learning reports can help adult social care employers confidently recruit and retain people who may face barriers to employment and safely and fairly recruit people from different backgrounds.


Skills for Care virtual event: International recruitment


Safe and fair recruitment - A guide to employing people with convictions in social care

This guide supports employers to reach the potential of people with convictions by implementing safe and fair recruitment policies and procedures. It helps employers understand that having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is unsuitable to work in social care. 

Download the safe and fair recruitment guide

Find out more about employing people with criminal records by downloading our ‘Did you know? See the person, value the difference' resource.

The Disclosure and Barring Service has produced a leaflet to address the eligibility of a range of roles across the adult social care sector. Download the leaflet.


Testing new approaches to recruiting from under-represented groups

In 2017-18 we funded four initiatives to test some new approaches to recruiting for potential from under-represented groups under the banner ‘Seeing potential’. Using the findings from the projects’ self-evaluation reports, this learning report looks at the barriers, challenges and successes of the projects, and pulls together important learnings and recommendations.

Following on from these learnings, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the CareTech Foundation funded further projects to test out longer-term approaches to engaging people under-represented in the sector. See the summary report of these projects.

The following case studies profile how locally based-programmes can support people from non-traditional backgrounds into the care profession, from the perspectives of the programme operators, local care employers, and the candidates themselves.

Leeds City Council’s Step into Care programme


Devon Watson

Individual supported into employment by the Step into Care programme.

Read the case study


Gillian Lee

Home Manager, Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.

Read the case study


Szczepan Swiatkowski

HR manager, Leeds Jewish Welfare Board

Read the case study


Shahida Mahmood

Organisational and Workforce Development Business Partner, Leeds City Council.

Read the case study



Guidance on employing workers aged 16 and 17

It’s both legal and beneficial to employ young people (aged 16 and 17), in social care services including home care and community-based services. Employing young people gives them the opportunity to start a career in care. The right employee, who has the right values and behaviours, can provide fresh thinking, challenge status quo and support with succession planning. They may also bring with them ‘lived experience’ that reflects the people employers are supporting.

View the guidance

Guidance on employing disabled workers

4.4 million disabled people are currently working in the UK, with millions more who want the opportunity to work and have valuable skills and experience to offer, but many still find it difficult to find employment. Encouraging disabled people to apply for roles and ensuring you have the right support in place will help you maximise your recruitment and retention efforts.

Download our guide to employing disabled workers in adult social care 

Download our 'Disability and employment' key cards

Find out more about employing disabled people and how the Disability Confident employer scheme can help your organisation.

Open recruitment

Open recruitment is the removal of any unfair and unnecessary barriers that could unintentionally prevent the employment of talented people. An open recruitment policy involves reviewing relevant aspects of the recruitment process to ensure it attracts and assesses the talents of people from different backgrounds, including marginalised and socially excluded groups.

This review can include:

  • changing the wording of job adverts
  • adapting how and where the vacancy is advertised
  • revising questions asked during the application process or at interview
  • modifying how candidates are short-listed for interview
  • refining how gaps in career and address histories are tackled
  • adjusting how working hours are set out
  • altering how and when applicants are asked to disclose criminal record history.

Open recruitment can also mean getting involved in or delivering pre-employment training programmes including apprenticeships, traineeships, work placements or work trials to those furthest from the labour market, whose skills might otherwise be overlooked. 

The benefits of open recruitment

  • Open recruitment can be a cost-effective means to resolving skill shortages and creates a work-force representing local communities.
  • Evidence suggests that people from disadvantaged or marginalised groups can become some of your best employees.
  • Many individuals can bring fresh ideas and solutions to problems faced by people who need care and support.
  • Organisations have reported positive benefits including:
    • going the extra mile to secure results
    • stay with their employer for longer
    • have a strong commitment to their organisation 
    • have lower rates of absenteeism.

Download our resource with details of organisations and resources to support you with open recruitment


How others are recruiting for potential

Read what other organisations have been doing to recruit from under-represented groups: