Skills for Care

How to get started using international recruitment to build your team

24 Aug 2022

5 min read

Skills for Care

  • Recruitment

Recruiting from overseas can be an effective way to build your team with skilled people looking for opportunities abroad, and can be one step towards tackling current recruitment and retention challenges in social care.

What is international recruitment in social care?

‘International recruitment’ is likely something you’ve been hearing a lot about lately. As the name suggests, it refers to recruiting people from abroad, but there are important processes to follow to do this legally.

The topic has become one of much discussion across the social care sector recently as the role of care worker was added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) earlier this year. This aims to make it easier for people working in this particular role to be hired from abroad, and highlights the importance of this role within the UK workforce. Nurses and senior care workers are also on the SOL. As social care providers are currently facing challenges with recruitment and retention, with an estimated 165,000 roles in the adult social care sector vacant across England, international recruitment can be one solution towards helping with this challenge.

We know from employers that they can find it difficult to navigate the process of international recruitment and so we have guidance available to support with this.

Case study: ‘Success with international recruitment’

Askham Village Community Limited is a family-run care provider which has successfully sponsored many international workers. We spoke to Director, Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, about how it’s worked for them. This is what Aliyyah had to say.

Operate five homes based in Cambridgeshire with 240 amount of staff
Rural location
Specialist services – dementia, nursing, neuro rehab

We first started recruiting internationally over 10 years ago. We were motivated primarily by our need to develop a strong nursing team.

Aware that others in our industry had similar vacancies for nursing, we decided to look overseas, where many other countries have invested heavily in training nurses and have large numbers of qualified staff who are looking for opportunities abroad.

We worked with agents who specialised in overseas recruitment and who have experience with immigration to apply to become a sponsor – this enables us to employ people internationally; without this license it wouldn’t be possible.

We have about 10% of our total staff from overseas – mainly in the role of nurse or senior carer, as these are some of the roles on the SOL.

Many of our international recruits have stayed with us long-term and achieved our long-service award at their five year anniversary. Three of our nurse team joined us from Kerala, India, in 2011 and remain with us today in leadership roles.

International recruitment isn’t easy but it’s well worth it! I’d advise any employers going down this road to take advice from an immigration expert every step of the way, but not to be put off by this. Our industry needs capable caring staff and our residents rely on us to find them, wherever they may be. The UK workforce is excellent, however, with the needs of the care sector growing the only way we’ll be able to meet the needs of our current and future residents, in my view, is through international recruitment.

Top tips

  1. Working through an agency or consultant specialising in recruiting overseas staff can help you put the right processes in place to meet sponsorship requirements and stay aligned with regularly changing rules and regulations.
  2. Your own pool of international staff can be a great source of further referrals for overseas workers.
  3. Rely on your usual interview process and questions, remain fair and keep your standards high.
  4. Prep your existing teams so there are clear expectations on roles, support, and fit when overseas colleagues arrive, for example around buddying responsibilities.
  5. Consider using training providers experienced in delivering course content to people for whom English is a second language.

Further support with international recruitment

There’s information available from the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care which is useful and important in helping social care providers to get started with international recruitment.

You can find all of these resources on our international recruitment webpage.

Find more recruitment support with our #BuildingYourWorkforce spotlight.

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