Our partnership with Alliance Medical Ltd for international recruitment
By Lee Emmett
We speak to Claire Eckersley, Clinical Resourcing Manager at Alliance Medical Ltd about their international recruitment and why they chose to work with Sanctuary International.
What is your role at Alliance Medical Ltd?
My role as Clinical Resourcing Manager involves planning and creating relationships within our existing workforce and also looking at how we can recruit more staff.
There’s approximately an 11% Radiographer skills deficit here in the UK so another part of my role is to develop relationships with universities running Radiography degree courses across the country. We can look to offer valuable support via clinical placements for Radiography students. Providers that traditionally offer placements are struggling because the demand for more radiographers means that universities need to attract more students, but they can’t do that if there are not enough placements available. It’s a vicious circle.
That’s where we come in. We started to offer university placements for students on an informal basis called electives; students would typically spend a few days with us or maybe even a week. Now, we’ve formed partnerships with four universities where we can offer longer, more engaging placements for students to allow them to expand their learning and growth. We support undergraduates throughout their studies, and eventually offer them a place within our graduate scheme to learn MRI/CT or PET-CT; something I’m proud to have developed.
I also look at the internal development and workflow of our staff and work with managers on recruitment; this includes the interview process, where I offer support from the clinical side of things (as I’m also a Clinical CT Senior Radiographer). A big focus of mine is exploring how we increase our pipeline with the EU and Brexit; we now look to recruit internationally in places we perhaps wouldn’t have before, which has opened up some exciting doors for us.
Why did you choose to work with Sanctuary International?
We first engaged with Sanctuary International about 10 months ago; we instantly connected with them as a business. I was working on an international project plan at the time, and part of that was asking, ‘how do we attract international applicants, and onboard them better than we currently do’? We had a big international workforce already, but we knew we could do it better and more consistently. Taking on this project gave our managers more assurance that we’d be getting high quality overseas applicants. The decision to work with an international recruitment partner like Sanctuary International was to attract a higher caliber of applicant, but also to give our staff some assurance of quality.
When we were looking for an agency partner, we wanted to find someone who understood us as a business, our visions and values, and also who had a strong presence in the international marketplace. We needed guidance and support in this process and felt that Sanctuary International had the right approach to resourcing outside of the UK and that personable approach we were looking for. We knew we’d need to form a great working relationship with whoever we chose, and it was evident from the outset that they could deliver on this.
Have you always recruited internationally?
International recruitment has been part of Alliance Medical Ltd’s strategy for the last 10 years. Some years prior we had a large contract with NHS England to supply MRI services. We were looking for applicants in Canada and Australia on three-year contracts and recruited about 30 Radiographers. After that, we weren’t actively pursuing international applicants but still managed to attract them to our roles. This was largely due to referrals from existing staff (which is a big part of our international recruitment process too) whereby an overseas applicant would come and work for us, tell their friends and family back home, who’d then often come and work for us too.
What has been your highlight?
A highlight of international recruitment is seeing how impressed overseas applicants are with the training and development opportunities we’re able to offer them. They also express that their work/life balance is much better here. We see, as employers, how hard our overseas applicants work. Their work ethic is usually exceptional. This is because often they want to work here for a better life, not only for themselves but also for their families who they support back home. We have some international staff who are incredibly invested in Alliance Medical Ltd as a company, have been with us for 5-10 years and are now British Citizens. They’re keen to work for an organisation where they feel supported and part of something really important; a company that doesn’t take them for granted.
What has been the main challenge?
The integration process of new arrivals into our company, and into UK life generally. For some, moving to the UK is a very big cultural difference and can be daunting. So, to rise to this challenge, we pledged to do more as an organisation. This included raising our cultural and diversity awareness; something we’re proud to be doing as part of this recruitment drive with Sanctuary International. We’re soon to start our cultural and life awareness sessions for new overseas workers, and if we then feel that any individuals need further support, we can offer that via an external provider. We also try buddying new arrivals up with a mentor with the same nationality. Overall, we’ve found international recruitment to be a very positive experience.
What advice would you give to other companies considering international recruitment?
Ensure your interview process is really thorough. We do a two-stage interview process (an initial general interview, followed by a very robust clinical interview) to assess applicants’ skills.
From our time working with Sanctuary International, we’ve realised the importance of having a strong partnership. This gives us an assurance that the applicants coming through to us are of a certain standard. Yes, this can take time to develop, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve been very pleased with the process so far.
To find out more about the opportunities available at Alliance Medical Ltd, please get in touch.