Looking to fill vacancies quickly? Jobcentre Plus has thousands of quality candidates, while the service can also help design bespoke training courses and attract difficult-to-find regional staff, turning recruitment into a stress-free experience…
When construction group Morgan Sindall Infrastructure won a coveted contract to build six new railway stations in Northumberland, they were delighted. There was one small problem: the company had no offices in the northeast, making recruitment difficult. Like many building firms, Morgan Sindall Infrastructure needs staff on a transient, job-by-job basis, maybe for a few months, maybe a couple of years. As the firm’s social value manager, Chris, puts it, “We move around the country, wherever the work takes us… We’d like to employ as many local people and businesses as we can, but the challenge is landing and recruiting the talent we need for these local projects.”
Enter Jobcentre Plus. After Chris contacted the government department, it started putting feelers for candidates out in the northeast, as well as providing Morgan Sindall Infrastructure with local offices and even an ‘employment suite’ in Newcastle so they could conduct interviews. “They were able to connect with local organisations providing employment, training and skills support to local people,” says Chris. “It was a huge bonus; a process that would normally take us six months only took us a couple of weeks.”
As Morgan Sindall Infrastructure has found, those companies wanting to recruit a skilled workforce can find a wealth of talent through Jobcentre Plus. It’s a service many businesses might appreciate right now: one recent Business Barometer report from the Open University and the Institute of Directors found 63% of decisionmakers said recruiting was difficult as candidates didn’t have the requisite skills for the role.
Thousands of people across the country are ready to be recruited through Jobcentre Plus, which can help reduce the stress, time and cost of recruitment. In fact, its dedicated work coaches are helping thousands of employers connect with the people they need – without the additional fees of private agencies.
FINDING THE WAY
Now Jobcentre Plus is introducing Way to Work. This partnership between government and employers seeks to get 500,000 jobseekers into work by the end of June 2022. This will help fill record numbers of vacancies, support job-ready people into the labour market and help them progress into a career.
The pandemic caused a shift in work habits – including those who moved to new locations and those who found themselves unemployed for the first time, who are now considering new roles in new sectors.
Under the Way to Work programme every Jobcentre now has an employer adviser whose role it is to engage with employers to try and identify where there are vacancies. One of those, Chris an employer adviser lead for construction and rail, for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, says they are proactive in approaching employers and offering services.
“We can support any employer – whether it’s a supermarket with large scale recruitment for a new store opening, to your local newsagent who has one or two vacancies.”
Chris describes the process of working with Jobcentre Plus “as a collaboration”; a synergetic relationship demonstrated by the bespoke service that Jobcentres can provide employers, from helping craft job advertisements to training candidates in sector-based work academies.
“I would ask employers to tell us exactly what you’re looking for, as we will match and screen applicants pertinent to the job role that you’re looking for,” says Chris. “This means we can tailor those services to the company’s needs. We want the right person into the right job.”
For longer lead recruitment, employer advisers work with training providers to design a course for jobseekers that matches a company’s needs. “Not only are they upskilled but they will be guaranteed an interview at the end of the training and work experience with an employer,” says Chris, reeling off a list of sectors including car manufacturing, care and warehousing. Chris’s team are currently helping upskill jobseekers so they’re workplace-ready.
“I“It works really well where you have a good lead in time for a recruitment especially with new store openings or the Northumberland line project where you’ve got a large employer coming in,” says Chris. “The rail project] is a scheme that’s going to run over a few years and we’re able to equip people with the skills they need when they get to the interview stage.”
Morgan Sindall Infrastructure has worked with Jobcentre Plus before to unearth future talent and Chris ays one of the big boons about working with the service is the wide net it casts for vacancies. “As a business you want to make sure your opportunities are promoted far and wide,” says Chris. “Jobcentres have an extended reach of contacts, so are an ideal place to help with that.”
Their searches can find candidates not found in traditional job recruitment. “Some of the entry requirements and language used in job descriptions might put people off from applying, no matter how hard we try to make that accessible,” says Chris. “But if you’ve got a jobcentre adviser sitting face-to-face with a potential applicant, explaining and demystifying the detail of what you’re advertising, then you’ll find candidates who wouldn’t have otherwise applied.”
There’s an even an opportunity to quickly find out what candidates have to offer. For employers who aren’t sure how an interviewee might behave in the workplace – and vice versa – the programme runs a work trial whereby anyone on Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance can do a trial for up to three weeks and remain on benefits. Jobcentre Plus will also pay the potential recruit’s travel costs.
Recruiting via Jobcentre Plus can also help diversify a company’s talent pool, says Chris. The UK has one of the lowest percentages of female engineers in Europe, but Chris notes Jobcentre Plus can help find “people who are underrepresented in our industry, such as women, people with disabilities and refugees.”
Morgan Sindall Infrastructure has already started work on the Northumberland rail project, bolstered by staff found through Jobcentre Plus. Says Chris, “My advice for other businesses is to remember this service is doesn’t require additional fees of private agencies. So, give it a try… It’s been a real boost for our recruitment, and I can’t imagine any business being disappointed.”
“We found Jack through Jobcentre Plus; he’s a huge asset to our business”
Jack says: “When I first walked into my local Jobcentre, I’d just dropped out of my A-levels and had no knowledge of construction: it was an industry completely foreign to me. I just thought of my uncle, who’s a plumber, or my brother, who’s an electrician. But just a few weeks later I was being interviewed for an apprentice’s role at top construction firm Morgan Sindall Infrastructure. Despite being very nervous, I managed to answer difficult questions and I got the job.
This might not have been possible if it wasn’t for the interview advice and coaching that I received through the Jobcentre, who also helped me with health & safety courses and my all-important CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card, which enables me to work on sites.
‘It’s been two-and-a-half years since that interview, and I’m now working as a Business Information Modelling (BIM) Coordinator it involves building data to digitally create 3D models of finished buildings. If you walk past one of our sites and scan the QR code, you might find a virtual reality 360° panorama I helped create of what the finished railway station might look like. And even though it’s been a long time since I used Jobcentre Plus, I know that if I was struggling in the role, I could contact them anytime for support and advice.’
‘As part of my job at Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, I sometimes give presentations. At the start of one recent talk at the London Transport Museum, I asked a group of schoolchildren if they wanted to be an engineer. Two hands went up. By we’d finished the talk, I asked them again, and two-thirds of hands shot up. To be able to inspire the next generation of engineers and let them know construction is a diverse job – involving digital skills and project management – is great.”
Jack’s boss (Chris) says: “Jack has gone from being an apprentice to working in our BIM team within just two short years. He’s really grown as an individual, and it’s been great to see his confidence grow. He’s now getting involved in giving presentations to clients and is a real asset to us as a business.”
Speed up your recruitment at gov.uk/waytowork