Skills for Care

Ethical international recruitment: what you need to know

20 Sep 2023

5 min read

Skills for Care

  • Culture and diversity
  • Recruitment

Our latest data shows that 70,000 people were recruited from abroad into direct care giving roles in 2022/23. We look at what you need to know about ethical international recruitment.

International recruitment can be one solution to the recruitment and retention challenges which the adult social care sector is currently facing.

It shouldn’t be seen as a stop-gap solution and shouldn’t replace recruiting domestically. Instead, international recruitment should be one source of recruiting skilled care workers with the right values for your organisation and supporting them to build a long-term career in care.

When recruiting from abroad there are important legal processes which you need to follow. A bite-size guide to these processes can be found on the Local Government Association website.

It’s also important to familiarise yourself with the ‘Code of practice for international recruitment.’

Some of the key ethical considerations include:

  • researching which country you plan to recruit from: some countries are on a red list meaning you can’t actively recruit from these places;
  • selecting from the Ethical Recruiters List if working with recruitment agencies;
  • ensuring that candidates have all the information they need about the job up-front to be able to make an informed decision.

You can find more details about all the ethical considerations in the code of practice.

When recruiting from abroad another key responsibility for employers is supporting new staff to settle into their new homes as well as their new jobs.

This means providing a comprehensive induction that will support new staff in learning your organisational values, feeling confident in their role, building relationships with colleagues, and providing good pastoral support.

We’ve heard of some great examples of work employers have been doing to recruit and settle in their new international recruits. You can find one example below from Mandy Biggs, HR manager at White Leaf Support.


Our experience with international recruitment

White Leaf Support provides care and support to adults with a learning disability, mental health needs and autism spectrum disorders.

The organisation found they were struggling to fill many of their vacancies and increasingly relying on agency staff, which isn’t only costly but makes it difficult for residents to build relationships with the people supporting them.

They felt the need to think outside the box and try a new approach.

When Mandy discovered that adult social care roles are now on the Shortage Occupation List, she saw this as an opportunity to bring in some new permanent staff and decided to look into getting a sponsorship licence. The team worked together to understand the cost and logistics of overseas recruitment and identified a recruitment company and immigration lawyers and were able to connect with an overseas agency based in Sri Lanka. The agency had many healthcare professionals who were looking to find a sponsor and work in the UK care sector.

To ensure the agency was finding candidates who were the right match for White Leaf Support, their Managing Director and Head of Care wrote a short document about their organisation and the services they provide. Working from this, the agency set up online video calls with several candidates.

The screening process began with an informal Teams call with the recruitment team to assess the merit of taking the candidate forward to interview, including ensuring a good level of English. The agency put more candidates forward and many of these progressed to a more formal interview. During this second interview, they emphasised probing questions to find out more about the individual: why they wanted to come to the UK, how they would adapt coming from a healthcare setting into a social care service, and their experience working with clients with mental health needs. Overall, nine candidates were selected for support worker roles in the organisation.

The team at White Leaf Support put a lot of effort into welcoming their new staff and helping them settle into their new home. They offered local accommodation to help create an attractive package, creating a brochure so the new starters knew what to expect, and a welcome pack to help them settle into life in the local community. This included practical guidance, such as opening a bank account, registering with a GP, and information about the local area such as the closest supermarkets and places of worship.

Feedback from staff and people who draw on care and support has been positive, citing that having permanent staff increases morale for everyone. They are hopeful that all will be looking to pursue a long-term career in the UK.

Mandy said that the process can be time intensive, taking eight months from getting their licence to getting people in post. There was lots of planning involved and it was a real team effort. Whilst it’s not a “quick fix”, she says the process was “very worth the time and effort”.


Find out more about international recruitment.

Find more recruitment support with our #RecruitRight spotlight.

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