Yesterday was Michaelmas Day, the traditional ‘Hiring Fair’ day and historically significant for recruiters!
Over the past few weeks there have been lots of Invitations to Tender for the supply of temporary staff - lots to look at and some to respond to. One we have just responded to was generally well thought through, but they required huge screeds of information about Health & Safety which was irrelevant to our role. Protecting yourself from badly drafted liability clauses adds a lot of hassle to the process of preparing a tender.
Desperate to protect themselves from the risk of prosecution, but unable to work out where the threat would come from, their legal adviser must have decided the supplier should accept all the risks and responsibilities, even though these are uninsurable by us, because we don’t direct or supervise the work and its not on our premises.
A greater concern is that another potential client, who spends millions on agency staff, recently retendered for the next three years, but didn’t announce it on OJEU or anywhere except their own web site. Apparently, one is supposed to go to their website every day and check whether they are inviting expressions of interest! Only existing suppliers were contacted. This may well make the job of the buyer easier, but deprives local suppliers of the chance to bid and it deprives their organisation of an excellent supplier at competitive rates.
In the immortal words of John Lennon “you said you want a revolution.. well you know, we all want to change the world..”
Well in social work it is happening. It seems that a mini-revolution is occurring in the world of social work and social care. Factors leading to this are probably the general reaction to the various inquiries that occurred in recent years, the consequent and apparent reduction in interest in Children and Families work, an increasingly ageing population and a general climate change around social care. Quite simply there is a lack of social work and social care professionals - and those who are qualified own the market.
In November the GSCC launched the “Grow Your Own Social Worker” toolkit (see www.gscc.org.uk) to guide those interested through the myriad of career routes into the profession. Currently, in order to rejuvenate the profession it seems, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) are developing a manifesto for social work - go to their website to add your contribution (www.basw.co.uk). This aims to “drive social work forward into the coming decade” by providing tools to lobby support for the profession.
In January, the Government announced that it will give £1000 to social care employers who take on a young, jobless person, either for experience, training or a job, as part of its preparations to launch a “National Care Service”. The new initiative is called “Care First Careers” and a series of regional launch events are taking place this month. More information is on the Job centre Plus website at www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Employers/carefirst/
It seems like social care is the career of the future, but with fewer people under 18 than over 65, will there ever be sufficient employees in this area? Many young people are drawn by the glamour of the “X Factor” fame or a job that will earn them money rather than the rewards of caring for another. Nevertheless, with the current employment market as it is, it seems like we are on the brink of a reborn, new generation of carers and the rebirth of social work as a core profession in the UK.
On 17th September 09 we contacted 57 candidates who had stopped working through KentSCP between three and six months ago. We asked them to tell us ‘How did we perform?’ . We had 13 responses (22.8%) with completed forms, of which 11 came back by e mail and 2 on paper forms.
These are the eight criteria and how we scored:
Friendliness of KentSCP staff?
Excellent: 92.3% Good: 7.7%
Helpfulness of KentSCP staff?
Excellent: 76.9% Good: 23.1%
The interview process?
Excellent: 69.2% Good: 30.8%
Understanding your requirements?
Excellent: 46.2% Good: 46.2% Acceptable: 7.6%
Ease and effectiveness of communication?
Excellent: 76.9% Good: 23.1%
Our ability to handle problems? (Recognise, anticipate, resolve).
Excellent: 61.5% Good: 38.5%
Efficient payment and response to pay queries?
Excellent: 84.6% Good: 15.4%
Keeping you informed?
Excellent: 69.2% Good: 15.4% Acceptable: 15.4%
Overall Totals -
Excellent: 72.1% Good: 25% Acceptable: 2.9% Poor: 0.0%
Some of the comments we received include:
“You are one of the best….”;
“Thank-you for looking after me”;
“I have enjoyed every single minute of my work through KentSCP as it was very rewarding. If I had any questions regarding the payment or any other administrative issues all were handled with great professionalism and care. Thank you very much for having me and I would use you again without any hesitation if I need to seek for a job in the future”.
“I personally feel that KentSCP is a very effective agency and equally efficient. However I do feel that there should be more opportunity for the agency workers to meet with the office staff and maybe even fund a yearly social event, which I will happily attend. I would also like to add that I have heard nothing but positive things relating to KentSCP staff”.
“Who knows, you might need me when I finish my Social Work degree programme”.
“I have worked for many agencies - KentSCP are the best I have worked with - all the staff are above excellent and always on hand to help…KentSCP have an out of hours service and answer all calls - in this, great safety is felt”.
“I would like to thank you for enabling me to get back to working in an area that I enjoy”.
“All staff are friendly, professional at all times. A very good agency to work for and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to apply for a job or to an employer who wanted an agency worker”.
“My only complaint would be that staff tend to forget that I don’t own a car and offer me work that I either can’t get to or would cost me more than I would earn to do so. Other than that, a very good service”.
I am profoundly touched by the honesty and kindness of our responders. I promise that we will do all in our power to maintain our best standard of service. All our staff take pleasure in helping our candidates and clients: I believe that is the key to keeping our business and growing it.
Finally - yes, we will organise a social (date and venue to be advised) and yes, we can recommend a driving school!
Today is one of the four ‘quarter days’, on which accounts were traditionally settled. Close to the autumn equinox and at the end of the harvest period, it was a time when agricultural labourers, who had finished one spell of work , would present themselves, in their best clothes, at the nearest market town, ready for work throughout the next twelve months. The exact day is 29th September, the feast of St Michael and All Angels. After hiring, a fair was held, called the ‘Mop Fair’. It is therefore a significant day for recruitment!
I’ve been thinking about how to keep Blog entries pertinent. Many ideas seem less so after a couple of days’ reflection. However, here’s one that passes the test!
Last Monday there was an article in the Independent, headed ‘Second Life’, which describes how Japan is dealing with the twin problems of a fast-ageing population and the need to find new roles for jobless ’salarymen’. “Japan is desperately short of geriatric care…nursing homes will need…100,000 new workers by 2010………460,000 people have lost their jobs in Japan since the collapse of Lehman….” So the idea is that retraining a small proportion of these could go a long way towards meeting the need.
However, there will be a lot of sifting out as the training progresses. “You have to be able to develop different skills; reading the faces of people you’re caring for and understanding their emotional needs”….”a lot of people try care work before discovering how hard it is and leaving….” . On the one hand, its clearly good to try to remedy unemployment and sometimes the initiative results in an unexpected success. On the other, aptitude testing can save misdirected effort and frustration.
In the UK, we don’t have such a ‘top-down’ approach. While KentSCP continues to exhibit at Jobs Fairs and co-hosts the Kent Social Care Expo, this draws people who are already quite interested in social care. We then identify the traits, likes and dislikes and aptitudes of everyone who approaches us, in order to be sure they will be happy in this line of work. Result? Very high satisfaction scores in both our client and candidate satisfaction surveys.
The best operators in the UK’s recruitment industry will play a vital role in helping to solve the problems of unemployment as the recession progresses.
Summer must be on its way! This is the first day I’ve not needed the heating on in my office.
Yesterday, one of our team was driven into by someone coming out of a parking space without looking and another was led into a narrow dead end by her satnav. This morning, someone coming for interview had to turn back because his wife was in a bad accident. Hopefully driving conditions will get better, but its not just the weather to worry about. In general, we count ourselves lucky if half the applicants we arrange to interview turn up. I don’t think its all due to travel problems.