Case Study

How Coventry and Warwickshire ICS boosts support and local jobs for underrepresented groups

The ICS has introduced a number of different employability support channels to attract, recruit and retain local people.

26 March 2024


To support the attraction, recruitment and retention of local people, Coventry and Warwickshire ICS Talent for Care (TfC) teams have been offering employability support through Step into the NHS, The Prince’s Trust, work experience, and application and interview support. To further support these initiatives, the ICS has recently established its Health and Social Care Academy.

Key benefits and outcomes

  • Since September 2023 C&W have worked with 1049 participants and 68 have successfully been recruited into paid roles or long-term volunteering. 
  • C&W are now working to further extend the reach of the academy in primary care, through its local GP Training Hub and social care, giving a wider range of employability programmes offering work experience and apprenticeships for the local community. 
  • They have also started sharing learning with other systems across the country and will be holding a celebration event in Summer 2024 to mark the first anniversary of the academy.

What the organisation faced

One of the ICSs People Plan priorities is to recruit, attract and retain. It has committed to work together in new ways to attract and recruit people with the right skills, values, and capabilities. This is to help address structural inequalities such as the high number of children in the care of the local authority, the very significant housing and homelessness challenge and variations in life expectancy across Coventry and Warwickshire and help build stronger socioeconomic outcomes and improved health and wellbeing for all. 

Another priority is people development, where organisations across the system will be supported in new ways to help staff fulfil their potential, in both their professional development and personal wellbeing. To ensure neither background or privilege will advantage or disadvantage people’s professional journeys, the ICS needed to deliver a truly inclusive approach to career development.

"As large employers across Coventry and Warwickshire we recognise the importance of supporting some of the most disadvantaged groups across Coventry and Warwickshire into training and employment."

Theresa Nelson Chief People Officer, Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board

What the organisation did

C&W ICS set the direction of the project and funded a two-year programme to establish the Health and Social Care Employability Academy. This was to ensure its organisations were supporting people from underrepresented groups, such as care leavers, people with disabilities, people with refugee status and people who are disadvantaged, who often face additional barriers to training and employment. 

The Employability Academy aligns with the Talent for Care (TfC) strategy: Get in, Get on and Go Further. It links with local authorities across four local NHS Trusts and aims to broaden employability opportunities and participation from underrepresented groups, in addition to its current work experience and employability programmes such as Step into the NHS, The Princes Trust and joining the Care Leaver Covenant. 

Outreach sessions are held in local community locations like food banks, religious events, community groups such as parent and toddler groups, and supermarket foyers to create local engagement. It has also worked to build partnerships with third sector and specialist organisations such as Spectra, County Councils, charities and employment organisations. 

Its ambition is to enable pathways into T-levels, traineeships, assisted internships, and apprenticeships, and create tailored career pathways to suit individual needs and skillsets. Participants are encouraged to join the Employability Academy, where they are triaged into a tailored employment programme, such as confidence building, good communication tools, and application and interview help. These programmes include career conversations and work experience depending on length and all focus on skills important to the employer.

The Academy supports participants through their entire application journey, including assistance with how to apply for jobs through NHS job sites and vacancy bulletins, to supporting through to interview stage and providing volunteering opportunities should they not be ready for a role. All the employability programmes will feature Career Conversations with an employability advocate to discuss what careers are available and give guidance on next steps. The Academy also works closely with existing NHS staff members to raise awareness about the benefits of working with people from diverse backgrounds and creating environments that support this.

"We know that there are obstacles and systemic inequalities that prevent some people in Coventry and Warwickshire from gaining access to training and employment opportunities. We are determined to help change this through the Coventry and Warwickshire Health and Social Care Employability Academy."

Donna Griffiths, Chief People Officer & Executive Sponsor of Coventry and Warwickshire Health and Care Employability Academy

Takeaway Tips

  • Understand the why and know your numbers - Decide which people you want attract, recruit, and retain within the organisations across your system – where are the challenges, do you have underrepresented groups and how can your programme support them. 
  • The power of partnership - Talk to your local organisations, Job Centres or employment charities to discuss opportunities to collaborate.  Contact local agencies that work with vulnerable people to identify what their needs are and barriers and challenges preventing these people successfully gaining employment.
  • Bring together your internal experts - Talk to your existing Talent for Care, recruitment or apprenticeship teams to understand what is already being offered and determine what can be improved. 
  • Raise awareness and bust the myths - Communicate and publicise the offering within the trusts to drum up interest for work experience placements, apprenticeship vacancies, speakers and mentors. Develop and facilitate external awareness sessions to encourage participants to attend the programmes. 
  • No-one size fits – No one set of circumstances are the same, you need to be flexible and agile to really have impact and support individuals. 
  • Reflection - Evaluate the programme to ensure it’s delivering what the participants need and make any changes that are needed.
  • Promotion and engagement - collect any case studies of existing staff that you may have that fall into the chosen groups to boost promotion and engagement. 
  • Have realistic aims - Agree a manageable and reachable target for positive outcomes.
  • Engage staff – Staff engagement is invaluable, start awareness sessions as soon as possible and promote these throughout the first four months of the project.

Contact Details

Charlotte Sutton –

Donna Griffiths–

Health and Social Care Employability Academy –