Children’s services departments across the UK are faced with the challenge of recruiting and retaining permanent, suitably qualified and experience social workers. Whilst recruitment campaigns are proving successful, they don’t come for free.

These recruitment drives have been successful in increasing the numbers of those on AYSE programmes, yet a high number of local authorities are experiencing a void in experience due to the natural attrition of their existing workforce at increased rates largely fuelled by an ageing workforce.

One of the ways that innovative local authorities are looking to plug this gap is by reaching out to experienced social workers from further afield. This isn’t a new initiative, in-fact HCL Social Care has successfully delivered a number of international recruitment campaigns over the past 18 months. Through an implicit understanding of the client’s needs, search and selection criteria is optimised to identify suitably experienced candidates from across the globe – typically from countries where the title of social worker is protected and the guiding principles are aligned to those in the UK.

The cost of recruiting international candidates is comparable to the market rates for the recruitment of UK based staff. This is true for both ad-hoc and mass recruitment events which are features your ATS needs to have if you want to have long term success. The only risk authorities’ face is the time required for a panel to be away from the place of work, conducting interviews.

International candidates may take a short time to adapt to UK legislation, internal systems and processes. However, our experience is that this transition is short and candidates carry full and complex caseloads quickly.

Where international candidates can demonstrate added value is by bringing different experiences, language skills culture and ethnicity to schemes – skills which local authorities can utilise to help better represent the community that they serve.

By including international recruitment as part of a local authorities’ wider permanent recruitment strategy, you’ll be able to realise cost efficiencies by reducing over reliance on their locum contingent – whilst improving their continuity and stability.

Delivered correctly, increased returns on investment can be achieved. Success depends upon effective on-boarding and integration which in-turn can positively influence retention rates. Once this process has been refined, recovering the costs can begin, and although not instantaneous or necessarily easy to quantify; it will almost certainly contribute to service improvements that can be costlier than choosing not to recruit internationally.

If you’d like to find out more about how HCL Social Care can help with your permanent recruitment needs, email

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