Socially responsible employers


18 / 1 / 2010

The NHS is Britain's largest employer and an NHS trust is often the largest employer in a local community. 

Getting young people and multi-disadvantaged groups into work within the NHS delivers positive social outcomes, ensures a more representative workforce and boosts an NHS organisation’s reputation as an employer.

An analysis undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, which looked at social mobility in the UK in comparison to a number of other countries, found that people in Britain are more constrained by the background they are born into than in any comparable country.

Current policy for social mobility is set out by the government’s ‘Social Mobility Strategy’ and the Department of Work and Pension’s programme to ‘Get Britain Working’ which seek to address the barriers faced by disadvantaged groups and to deliver welfare reforms to fight poverty, support the most vulnerable and help people break the cycle of benefit dependency.

NHS organisations, as public sector employers, have a duty to increase employment opportunities for multi-disadvantaged groups as well as meet the requirements of equality legislation including the Equality Act 2010. View our web pages on equality and diversity for more details.

Youth unemployment is a serious issue affecting young people aged 16-24. Set against the fact that around 30,000 NHS staff retiring each year, an aging NHS workforce creates additional incentives for NHS employers to invest in the future by attracting younger staff and to build young peoples’ skills now so that we can ensure a high-quality workforce for the future.

The Cabinet Office has produced some key principles which employers should aspire to achieve to increase employment opportunities and become a socially responsible employer. Read the guidance

NHS Employers works with a range of NHS organisations, the Department of Health, Jobcentre Plus and the Cabinet Office to promote the range of opportunities that NHS organisations can offer including apprenticeships, internships, work experience and volunteering. 

Social Mobility Toolkit for the professions

The Social Mobility Toolkit which was researched on behalf of Professions for Good surveyed 300 professionals and drew on the expertise of 50 representatives from universities, membership bodies, NGOs, regulators and government departments. It provides practical recommendations for employer organisations of all sizes, professional bodies and regulators on how they can track and foster social mobility. Download the toolkit from the Professions for Good website.

Social mobility: resourcing and signposting

The NHS Employers organisation supports NHS workforce leaders and HR practitioners in a range of areas of workforce practice and policy, many of which can support your trust when looking at local social mobility strategies.

Our resourcing and signposting webpage links to a number of different areas of the NHS Employers website which can support your organisation in developing local initiatives to widen opportunities for young people and disadvantaged groups and to locally build social mobility strategies. View the social mobility: resourcing and signposting webpage here.

Case studies

Find out what other trusts are doing to widen opportunities for young people and disadvantaged groups. 

Barts and the London community awards

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust Cadet Scheme


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