Blog post

Partnership recruitment in Greater Manchester

Read this blog examining the socio-economic benefits of large scale and hyper-local recruitment in the Greater Manchester area.

22 May 2024


  • Headshot of Sue Howard
    Sue Howard Head of Workforce Development

In this blog, we hear about a collaboration initiative at the NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board from Sue Howard, head of workforce development at the ICB, who explores how cross-sector events are providing career opportunities and skills development to local people. 

The NHS continues to encounter struggles and pressures with its workforce, and within the Greater Manchester area, sustaining staffing levels and attracting new talent within health and social care organisations is one of our biggest challenges.

Greater Manchester has developed a project with an aim of attracting people from the local community into entry-level healthcare roles. There has been a clear disconnect between employers and potential candidates for too long and we wanted to do something to change that. We also considered that recruiting to a particular set of job roles on a large scale, in one day, would save time and fill vacancies more efficiently. 

To do this NHS Greater Manchester teamed up with Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust and other partner organisations across primary, secondary, social care, and voluntary sectors. Drawing on earlier learning, we knew we wanted to directly engage with local communities. In the health service we often expect entry-level roles to complete the same extensive application process to chief execs, and we know that’s an obstacle for some, especially for people new to the sector.  

We have shaped these job events to be as straightforward as possible for candidates and employers, and to remove barriers. 

We use a central venue with good transport links so that it is accessible for everyone. When candidates arrive and register they can find the information they need from event hosts guiding them around the various opportunities, liaise with employers, be referred for an interview there and then, and potentially leave with a job offer. They are also asked in advance to bring in documentation for pre-employment checks (ID, proof of address, references, etc) as this is another factor in speeding up the overall time to hire. Other applicants who might need more support, such as skills training, before they are ready for the interview stage are linked up with relevant organisations to find the resources that will help them.

The first two events took place in Oldham and Salford, where 540 people attended. 144 job offers were made on the day and around 150 either registered for pre-employment programmes or were offered voluntary placements to build skills and experience. 

Overall, these recruitment initiatives help support the local economy and improve employment rates. It’s easier for job-seekers to explore a range of opportunities they may not have considered previously, to find work close to where they live (close proximity is key for entry-level roles), and adopting effective engagement methods attract candidates who might not usually apply through traditional channels. The additional support offered, such as pre-employment programmes (with interview priority for those who completed them) is also a big incentive for applicants. 

From an employer perspective, the events enable filling vacancies at scale, reduce the burden on clinical teams and are financially beneficial. The time spent on hiring was on average 4.6 days per candidate originally, but this has decreased to 1.1 days per head through these events. As a sector we lose a lot of people during the long wait between being offered a job and start date; during these events we shaved 13 days off the time to hire. The potential cost saving has been 74 per cent per candidate, an estimated saving of £50,000 for one large event alone. Given the extent of health care support worker (most common role filled during the events) vacancies across England, this could help save the health service millions of pounds. 

The cross-sector approach has been one of the main factors in this being successful and the growing your own strategy helps to build social value. 

The different organisations have presented themselves to candidates as unified and working as connectors rather than competing against each other. Co-ordinating across multiple providers is beneficial for finding the right path for a candidate and meeting their needs and aspirations, and finding the right mutual fit for the employer.

This model can be replicated across other health and care systems. Delivering dedicated targeted recruitment initiatives to several small geographical areas takes up a lot of resource and capacity but by working co-operatively the results are worth the effort. Our implementation guide is a useful resource for helping with replicating some of the innovative approaches we took while delivering these cross-sector recruitment events.

Since implementing the project we have been working with other localities to support them with similar initiatives in their areas. We have also created a recruitment and retention toolkit which assists with making impactful organisational change and generating innovative ideas to enable getting the workforce we need for the future. 

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