Key facts

  • 137 permanent QSW roles filled in 12 month period at 98 per cent direct fill
  • Over six years, the contract has accumulated over £2m of savings
  • Reliance on agency staff reduced from 40 to 15 per cent of target operating model

Capita Resourcing helps one of the UK’s largest local authorities to solve the enduring social care skills shortage, and reduce social care worker vacancies to an all-time low.

The Challenge

The client – which has an estimated 8,500 employees – had recently come under new directorship and was driving forward social work reform for its children’s social care service. Capita had been awarded the contract for outsourced permanent and temporary recruitment with the responsibility for all children’s social care staffing including qualified, permanent social work hires (social workers, senior practitioners and team managers). Capita had been brought on to support the client with transformational change and achieve significant costsavings across its recruitment operation.

A specific challenge faced by the local authority was a national skills shortage – specifically qualified frontline children social work professionals. Staff turnover within the local authority was comparatively high and was heavily dependent on social work agency staff. This surmounted to 40 per cent of skilled social workers employed on temporary contracts at any given time. This was proving to be costly and the lack of permanently-employed staff meant that the workforce was transient and unable to deliver a consistently high level of service.

The solution

Capita provided a full RPO solution with two parts to its resourcing strategy. Firstly, quality of hire was re-defined by questioning specific role requirements and determining the key motivational drivers for social care professionals.

Capita then worked cohesively with the client to develop a compelling proposition for the local authority’s employer brand. This entailed listening and gaining a deep understanding of what’s important to social workers and developing a proposition idea embodying the true professionalism of social work and the desire to develop skills, knowledge and strong relationships.

The employer brand proposition formed the basis of the ‘Serious About Social Work’ recruitment campaign. This campaign included advertising in both online and paper media, the creation of a client microsite attached to the careers website, and the introduction of video media. Demographic talent mapping and client profile raising activity using social networks enabled candidates to get a good sense of what it’s like working for the local authority.

Capita launched the first ever one-day social care CPD event to engage with qualified social workers from other local authorities. It included a workshop with the client’s social care directors and the event was awarded CPD points by social work’s governing body, Healthcare & Professions Council (HCPC). This pro-active event was effective in raising the 2 profile of the client as an employer of choice for social work professionals and made a positive impact on quality of hire.

The results

Capita’s recruitment campaign and project initiative has provided the momentum to drive quality social worker vacancies in the local authority to an all-time low, reducing hard-to-fill social care vacancies by 75 per cent over a nine month period.

Over a longer period of 12 months, Capita has recruited 137 social care permanent roles at an average of 98 per cent direct fill; achieved an average time-to-hire of 20 working days and an average time-to-clear (safeguarding) of just 15 working days.

Furthermore, the client has reduced its reliance on agency staff from 40 per cent to 15 per cent, resulting in a reduction of 50 per cent in staffing costs against these posts. Permanent hires and staff are staying in roles for longer. Building a service around the skills and people needed has allowed individual workers to support more cases from beginning to end, and this has been hugely beneficial to children and their families within the local authority.

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