Oxfordshire innovation leading the way in overseas care recruitment

Care providers across the south-east of England are being offered access to a new, Oxfordshire designed, international recruitment system, helping to reduce bureaucracy and costs when hiring staff from abroad.

Following a £2.54 million investment from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Oxfordshire County Council’s award winning innovation service has developed the initiative, which includes the creation of a portal for care providers. The portal offers support around complex areas such as immigration and compliance.

The service has worked with care providers to better understand the challenges faced in overseas recruitment. The county council has now announced it will partner with Borderless, a technology company founded in 2022, to deliver and further develop the migration platform.

Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Oxfordshire County Council’s innovation service has a proven track record of delivering innovative solutions for the local care sector, working with providers to understand the real challenges they face.

“Overseas care workers are increasingly providing a vital service for many thousands of vulnerable people in the south-east. Our residents who they serve, the providers they work for and the adult social care departments that often fund their work have immense respect and gratitude for the incredible work they do.      

“But the amount of red tape involved in overseas recruitment is challenging. By offering greater support to help providers understand complex immigration rules, this new platform aims to make everything fast, low risk and low cost, enabling businesses to take back control and focus time on their core activities.

"We are determined to make this a great tool but also urge the government to think carefully about the impact on this fragile system of changing rules on International Certificates of Sponsorship; and the new requirements to demonstrate the volume of work and genuineness of vacancies, which is tying the hands of our providers to recruit responsibly.

"We would also welcome better checks and oversight of companies that might be using the system to exploit vulnerable overseas workers. Only by working with a unified sense of purpose will we be able to ensure the whole system is fit for purpose and delivers the best care for those that need it most.”

With the adult social care sector facing growing challenges around the complexity of international recruitment, the DHSC made £15m (£2.54m for the south-east) available over 2023 to 2024 to help support international recruitment within the adult social care sector in England.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in the south-east region secured funding from this pot and partnered with Oxfordshire County Council’s innovation service to design and create a portal, accessible to all care providers aimed at addressing the key priorities identified by them across the region. These included barriers around Home Office compliance, high upfront costs and long recruitment timelines. The council is now working with Borderless to further develop the platform.

Matthew Bond, CEO & Co-Founder at Borderless, said: “Borderless is delighted to be partnering with Oxfordshire County Council to deliver this ground breaking initiative. At Borderless – we believe in a world where borders are no longer barriers – anyone, anywhere should be able to move and work, seamlessly and safely, and that’s exactly the foresight we saw in the council’s tender.

“Hiring migrant workers doesn’t have to involve expensive intermediaries. It doesn’t have to mean bewildering Home Office bureaucracy. And it doesn’t have to take months on end.

“We look forward to jointly creating a platform that connects ambitious care workers across the globe with UK care providers, using technology to manage and streamline the entire sponsorship process.”

The recruitment platform is already backed by leading care organisations and associations and is fully compliant with regulatory bodies. Borderless is now working with more than 130 care providers across the UK – offering support with sponsor licence applications, as well as advice on immigration and compliance processes. 

The benefits for care professionals are also significant. Migrant workers can often face significant risks, from being charged extortionate fees to exploitative labour practices, which have resulted in a growing modern slavery crisis.

By providing safe and ethical pathways to the UK’s care industry, Borderless ensures workers are only employed by genuine businesses and are treated fairly throughout the process.

Oxfordshire County Council and Borderless will be offering a series of free introductory webinars for providers in the south-east that are interested in learning more about the benefits of the platform.

Registration for the webinars on 27 March, 23 April and 7 May can be found on Borderless’ website.

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