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Social Value Model and Employment: How to diversify your workforce and tackle skills shortages

When it comes to employment, diversity is an important topic and one that, while talked about a lot and outlined in the Social Value Model, is not always an easy thing to deliver on.

Studies have repeatedly shown that diversity promotes productivity and innovation. This is often a key driver for some businesses in trying to widen their pool of talent.

Others want to tap into sources of skills and experiences that can’t be found in their typical recruitment pools.

Many want to do it just because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

There is another benefit to diversifying your workforce, one you may not be as aware of.  Helping people from disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds into better-paid work – whether by employing them or helping them develop new skills – is a way of creating social value. And creating social value helps businesses win more public sector contracts!

What the Social Value Model Says About “Workforce Representation” and Employment

The Social Value Model (SVM) is very clear on this. For example:

  • Under MAC 1.1 Employment, re-training, return to work, one sub-criterion calls for “Creation of employment opportunities particularly for those who face barriers to employment, such as prison leavers, and/or who are located in deprived areas”.
  • MAC 2.2: Employment highlights the same demand, and also asks for “Delivery of training schemes and programmes to address any identified skills gaps and under-representation in the workforce for the contract (eg prison leavers, disabled people).”
  • Four of the Equal Opportunity MACs say in their actual titles:
    • MAC 5.1: Demonstrate action to increase the representation of disabled people in the contract workforce
    • MAC 5.2: Support disabled people in developing new skills relevant to the contract, including through training schemes that result in recognised qualifications.
    • MAC 6.1: Demonstrate action to identify and tackle inequality in employment, skills and pay in the contract workforce
    • MAC 6.2: Support in-work progression to help people, including those from disadvantaged or minority groups, to move into higher paid work by developing new skills relevant to the contract.

Those are just some of the explicit references. Many other forms of social value presented by the SVM can be generated by supporting people who face barriers to employment from backgrounds such as:

  • Domestic violence survivors
  • Ex-armed forces personnel
  • Care leavers
  • Homeless people
  • School and college leavers
  • Displaced talent
  • Offenders Released on Temporary Licence (ROTL) and prison leavers

How Employing Ex Offenders Generates Social Value

Let’s zoom in on just one of those groups – prison leavers.

It’s not hard to see that businesses which support and employ ex offenders help the community in straightforward, cash-quantifiable ways.

That’s saying nothing of the benefits that employment and education bring in terms of quality of life, wellbeing, mental health – all of which feature prominently in the SVM.

And yet there are many obstacles to prison leavers finding work on both sides of the equation.

Many employers continue to simply screen out all applicants with criminal records in their recruitment processes. It may astonish you to learn that around 10 million people in the UK – 20% of the working-age population – have some form of criminal record.

When an industry like construction is looking at a requirement for an additional 226,000 workers over the next four years just to meet existing demand, the neglect of the ex offender population is short-sighted.

And former prisoners often report difficulties in knowing how to go about looking for work and upskilling, especially those who experience mental health problems as well.

So, even businesses that are positive about ex offenders can find it difficult to deliver on their aspirations to employ them.

How To Build Bridges to Disadvantaged Groups

It’s not enough to just publish inclusive job adverts and hope that qualified people from groups of this sort walk through your door. Commissioning authorities will be looking for much more proactive effort with detailed plans, evidence of success in similar attempts, and commitments to clear reporting of results when considering social value proposals.

Usually, that means engaging with advocacy groups. For example:

These bodies can help your business to understand the challenges involved in building awareness and relationships of trust with the people they represent.

And then there are specialist agencies that help make specific person-to-business matches.

Build a Career Logo

At Thrive one of our newest customers specialises in this very thing – Build A Career, a purpose-driven recruitment initiative that is part of a wider company, PSR Group, a construction and healthcare recruitment specialist.

Build A Career works with many of the different categories of people we mentioned earlier, to help them overcome the difficulties they face in gaining employment.

One such person helped by Build A Career is Release On Temporary License candidate, Sarah (not actual name of candidate for confidentiality reasons).

Through this initiative, Sarah was able to find a sustainable job which she quickly grew to love.  Starting off as a cleaner, within a period of 6 months she got her CSCS card, SMSTS and Fire Marshall certification and was also promoted to Assistant Site Engineer proving the resilience and determination of ex-offenders.   And the best part? She was able to win back the custody of her children.

What does the social value model say about disadvantaged groups

As she puts it herself:

“For my personal journey, it’s helped me re-settle back into normal life but not only that it’s also given me a new career. Just because someone’s made a mistake, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.  I’ve made a mistake and proven myself by putting it all back into my work”

Sarah is a success story. There are thousands of potential employees, trainees, and skilled operatives read to follow her path.

How Displaced Talent Is A Skills Reservoir Waiting To Be Tapped

Build A Career has also had great success in bringing together businesses and “displaced talent” – that is, skilled refugees who have been forced to flee their homes and are often living in low-income countries where they do not have access to safe and legal pathways to travel and practice their trades.

With access to more than 50,000 professionals: engineers, tradespeople, tech professionals, healthcare professionals and more, Build A Career is engaging with governments, refugee-serving organisations and local communities, to create safe and legal pathways that enable displaced talent to move for work, resume their careers, and rebuild their lives all over again.

And they don’t just talk the talk. Earlier this year, Syrian refugee Nariman Al Kaddour joined the company as the “Displaced Talent Ambassador” to lead this fantastic initiative.

Nariman says:

“When refugees leave behind their homes, they don’t leave behind their skills or qualifications. I am talented and educated and there are many others like me.  Being part of the displaced talent program and coming to the UK has changed my life, given me the chance to build my career and most importantly given my children a future.  I don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Now at Build A Career, Nariman is helping employers to make contact with, support, and place other skilled refugees. Speaking at London Build 2022, she urged more employers to look to this under-appreciated source of in-demand skills:

“You’re not only giving someone a job — the best thing about hiring a refugee is that you’re also going to be changing someone’s life for the better.”

Capturing the Value of Helping Disadvantaged People into Work and Addressing the Social Value Model Questions

Stories like Sarah’s and Nariman’s clearly demonstrate the wide-ranging benefits of businesses reaching out to marginalised groups. But commissioning authorities and bid managers are looking for more than just anecdotes.

That’s where a social value framework like the Impact Evaluation Standard comes into its own.

Using and elaborating upon the metrics presented in the Social Value Model and a comprehensive and robust set of proxy values, the IES ensures:

  • Every positive outcome is accounted for and given a monetary value
  • “Deadweight” (benefits that would have occurred anyway without the intervention) is discounted – not accounting for this is a major source of green and social-washing accusations
  • The full extent of a company’s activities and their impact can be captured and reported on 

Using Thrive’s social value module (the only software approved to use the IES) PSR Group has been able to report detailed, quantified data on the impact that its own work has had – not only to stakeholders but also to contracting authorities when it bids for government work.

If you want to be able to tell the story of the good that your company’s work is doing and back it up with robust data and comprehensive evidence, let’s arrange a demo of the Thrive platform to show you how PSR has done it.