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In February 2022, the Government announced an initiative enabling international students studying in the UK to switch to a care worker role via the Skilled Worker Visa. One year since obtaining our sponsor licence, we look at how the sponsorship programme has enriched the lives of the people we support and welcomed over 100 new full-time employees
Glenda Birse, Head of Workforce Planning and International Recruitment, explains: “ Following Brexit and throughout the COVID pandemic, the care industry faced some very bleak periods of low employee numbers, resulting in a severe national shortage of care workers across the entire UK. To help address a huge shortfall in care workers, the government launched an initiative to help boost care worker numbers across the UK. At Precious, we saw the potential benefits of the initiative – including boosting employee numbers and accessing some very experienced employees. So we applied to the Home Office and UKVI for a sponsor licence and ran a targeted campaign to recruit people through the scheme for a twelve-month period until June 2023. The focus from now onwards is to ensure we are supporting those employees to be successful in their roles and have a rewarding career with Precious.
The UK has an estimated 165,000 vacancies in the adult care sector, with 10.9% of social care jobs unfilled, according to data from Skills for Care (March ‘23). This change in rules allowed care providers to access skilled workers, providing relief from the mounting pressures that have arisen from widespread labour shortages. The sponsor licence allows students living in the UK to switch their immigration category to Tier 2- Skilled Care Worker. In addition, people living outside of the UK who had care work and nursing experience could also apply to come and work in the UK as a care worker.
Glenda continues “The programme got off to a very successful start. We recruited ten very experienced employees who had been working in the care industry while completing their studies. As well as them having a high level of care experience from within the UK, as post-graduate students they also brought with them invaluable new skill sets, knowledge, and experience. They have all now passed probation and are heading towards their first-year anniversary of joining Precious.”
Following the success with the student team, the company went on to welcome two groups of overseas employees who were trained and qualified nurses. These teams have settled into Central Milton Keynes and Peterborough services and are thriving in their new roles. As qualified nurses, they bring some very valuable experience to the existing teams. There’s no doubt that the experience is beneficial to the company, but, as an employer, companies like Precious also have a duty of care to these newly recruited employees.
Glenda continues “Most sponsored employees either join us from outside of the UK or relocate from different areas within the UK, so it is important that they are supported while they settle in. As part of my role, I spend a few days in these areas when new employees arrive so that I can support people to settle into new accommodation, new areas, find bus routes, shops, relevant food stores, GP surgeries, Dentists etc.
“What has been really lovely to see is all of the employees who have played a big part in welcoming in new employee groups and sharing experiences of life in the UK – from how they spend their weekends to where they socialise – including sharing things to do in local communities, helping find events of interest, sharing food experiences. One service welcomed a new group of employees from India by arranging a tasting session – they bought fish and chips for the group which went down very well! In return, I have seen international employees share their food recipes in services and also cook international food for the people they support.
“It has been wonderful how everyone has contributed to helping the new employees settle in and to see how much they have become part of the Precious family. I feel so fortunate to have been involved with this amazing project which has seen over 100 employees take up full-time sponsorship in the company.”