Teachers, GPs and the armed forces struggle to recruit


Some of our most revered public services have been in the press recently as they reach tipping point when it comes to recruiting enough people.

It’s almost impossible to know where to start when faced with the news that three of our, let’s face it, most invaluable public services are finding it a real challenge to attract people. After all, these roles are vital to us all. They’re the people that educate, care for and protect our entire nation.

It’s a volatile subject. And, we imagine, it’s most emotive for the people that have trained to serve in these professions. For as much as it’s about trying to recruit people, it’s also about retaining people. And people are leaving. Clearly.

All three branches of the armed forces are under threat according to Armed Forces minister Mark Francois in his ‘Filling the Ranks’ report. In the year to April 2017 12,950 recruits joined the regular armed forces but 14,970 left. The Royal Navy and the RAF are around 10% short, whilst the Army shortfall is over 30%, with a need to recruit 10,000 people. He also highlighted that with only 7% coming from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, diversity in the armed forces was in much need of investigation. And, with women only representing 10% of the workforce, more effort needed to be focused on attracting them too.

And according to eTeach, the UK’s leading job site by teachers for teachers, which audited teacher vacancy stats from 7,000 schools in the UK, the news doesn’t fare much better. The top-line goes something like this. This September sees a 24% increase in vacant teaching posts, which means that at least 300,000 pupils will be without a permanent teacher as the 2017/18 year starts. That’s a 9% increase compared with September 2016. What’s more, two thirds of teachers are looking to leave their current role within the next three years citing excessive workload (46%) and low morale (38%) as their primary concerns. On the upside, 56% of teachers would still recommend the profession to a friend.

Now, to the GPs. Plans outlined in the ‘General Practice Forward View’ aims to see 5,000 more GPs and 5,000 medical professionals working in general practice by 2020. Yet whilst the next few years will see an intake into medical schools in England grow by 25%, it’s going to be a good while before this translates into qualified doctors. In the meantime, NHS England is looking outside the UK for help with an international recruitment programme. It’s aim? To recruit 600 overseas GPs in 2017/18 and a further 2,000 doctors over the next three years. Initially they’ll seek to attract GPs from the European Economic Area – as the GP training is recognised here. They’ll then potentially expand out to Australia, if they can establish that the training is equivalent to the UK GP programme.

We don’t envy the roles of the HR professionals, resourcing consultants and marketing agencies who are tasked with tackling these apparently mountainous recruitment challenges. Each profession, whilst immeasurably rewarding, carries huge amounts of pressures and strains. It takes dedication and commitment to train for, sign up to, and stay in any one of these. Which is why the story must extend way beyond simply getting ‘bums on seats’. Once they’ve attracted them into these professions, it’s about making them feel valued and rewarded for the work they do. And why there’s so much more to this than it being a ‘mere’ recruitment issue.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

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