Bringing jobs to the people who need them most

Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall and Dudley

All anchor institutions have, by their very nature, an ambition to use their economic assets to create greater local economic benefit. Turning that ambition into action, however, can be a challenge.

The anchor networks in Birmingham and Walsall have managed to overcome this barrier by targeting projects at not just making a difference but also resolving a significant institutional issue. Independently, both networks matched a housing association with concerns about high levels of local unemployment with an NHS Trust struggling with staff recruitment and retention. This then led to pilot projects that identified barriers in traditional recruitment processes that prevented people new to the NHS from successfully applying for a vacancy.

The projects could have easily stalled there but, by harnessing the buy-in to addressing a significant institutional concern, the Network partners were able to commit resources to trying something different, including:

  • Working with community partners that are best placed to engage those further from the job market.
  • Switching from experience/qualification-based recruitment to a selection criterion based on values and behaviours.
  • Moving away from over-complicated job descriptions and, instead, simply inviting applicants to select one of three job families (administration, facilities, medical) before then being matched to an appropriate vacancy.

In Walsall this has resulted in Work4Health which supported over 160 people into work from some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the Borough. In Birmingham and Solihull, the I Can project has now resulted in over 550 offers to unemployed residents to start NHS entry level careers in just over two and a half years.

This success has now attracted other anchor institutions, both NHS and non-NHS, who now are adding their own vacancies to the employment pathways Work4Health and I Can have created – for example, in Dudley, their model of I Can will initially focus not only on the NHS but local authority jobs too, with plans to eventually expand to different sectors.