In many countries and parts of the UK such as London, where over 50% of frontline care workers are made up of migrants, the social care market would simply collapse without the contribution and ongoing support of this group. By migrants, I mean those born in another country, but this could easily be widened to include ethnic groups who are second or third generation migrants.
Of course, at the time of writing the focus is very much on European Union (EU) workers, a highly mobile workforce which has been unsettled by Brexit, currency changes and the improvement in economies elsewhere in the EU. These employees have earned a reputation for hard work, flexibility and a willingness to work long hours, so care providers should have a plan in place to both support those staff they already have but also to recruit more if they can.
The best approach to engage any ethnic group is to ask existing staff who come from that group what methods they would recommend. Some approaches to consider include:
- Identify community groups and charities, e.g. social groups, job and skills clubs, women’s groups, that work with or have members from the target group and could help you to develop opportunities for making them aware of care work
- Write to community and religious leaders to ask them if you can speak about care work to community members seeking work. Local area development and residents’ groups in target geographic areas may also be helpful
- Work with facilities that have a high number of visitors from your target audience – a cultural or education centre, or youth or older persons’ centre
- Involve umbrella voluntary organisations as they may be able to flag to relevant volunteers either directly or through newsletters – for example, they could involve mentors working with recent immigrants or young people
- Local businesses such as ethnic food stores, restaurants, hair salons and venues may be able to assist in spreading the message via notice boards or leaflets
- Take a stand at a cultural event
If you can, put up posters or deliver leaflets, consider having these translated into the ethnic group’s local language, whilst making it clear that written and spoken English will be required to an acceptable standard.
Retaining Overseas Workers
Those from another country are naturally more mobile and sensitive to changing circumstances. Much of this is outside the control of employers, but there are steps that can be taken to minimise unnecessary staff loss. Firstly, offering support with settling in can help. This might include English lessons, local driving familiarisation or help to overcome personal challenges of having loved ones living far away.
It is also important to work towards developing a ‘culturally competent’ workplace to minimise poor job satisfaction, racism and confusion caused by a lack of understanding of other cultures. Levels of acceptance and job satisfaction of migrant workers have been improved by their employer providing awareness training to colleagues, clients or residents and their families on cultural differences, including religious practices, food, music and end of life customs.
Demonstrating to migrant workers that they are valued and ensuring a welcome to those joining you has never been more important. This is a highly valuable group for social care so your efforts will be well rewarded.