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The National Health Services (NHS) is a very large publicly funded Healthcare Organization across the UK who provide comprehensive services to patients and service users which is free at the point of care. It is built up of hundreds of services which cover acute and emergency health, general health and mental health to all age groups from birth to end of life care. The organizations within it ranges from Foundation Trusts, District Care Trusts, Teaching hospitals, secure Forensics units and all types of general community health care and Primary Care. Their member base is roughly 1.3 million people. They are the largest individual employer of staff in Europe and the 4th largest employer of staff in the World.
South West Yorkshire Foundation Trust is one of those such Trusts within the NHS and it is situated in the North of the UK and covers a number of geographical counties across South and West Yorkshire. It offers employment to 4,200 people across the area it serves. It provided inpatient mental health, community mental health, general community and secure Forensic services. They employ all kinds of NHS roles including Consultants, doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, psychologists, clinician, clinical support staff and administrative leadership and support roles, to name a few.
The Trust holds various online and physical recruitment fairs to fill these positions, where their reach for newly qualified and suitable candidates for their vacancies is internationally sourced. On September 30, 2021 South West Yorkshire Partnership held their first ever virtual recruitment fair with vFairs as their chosen recruitment platform provider. This was part of a collaborative approach to recruitment with several other Foundation Trusts and District Care Trusts as well as other health and social care provider organizations in the area.
In partnership with their sponsors, the goal of the NHS virtual recruitment fair was to:
The purpose was so that attendees learn:
Through this event they sought placements for people seeking healthcare jobs. At the time of the event, they were offering 380 types of roles and opportunities.
The NHS objectives were achieved through;
These sessions involved walking attendees through the journey of a career with the NHS. Beginning with employers and their expectations, they slowly transitioned how attendees can get started. This involved:
The interactive exhibit hall allowed attendees to scroll through and view the different partners of the NHS. The booths consolidated the information provided at the webinars. Each booth was carefully curated to enhance attendee knowledge about recruitment, future career path and opportunities available.
The NHS employers booth provided more material on education and training, careers, job opportunities, pay, pensions and rewards. The University of Huddersfield further provided guidance and counseling for forging a career in healthcare through their booth. They shared information on the Masters and Bachelor degrees available.
The Leeds Volunteer Center was also present to provide information on volunteer opportunities. Other exhibitors included all partners such as the Prince’s Trust, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, National Career Services amongst others. Information on job and volunteer opportunities within them were available.
All booths were linked to social media pages and websites of the exhibitor. This was an easy way for attendees to explore these should they want to.
All brochures, tips and other materials were available in the ‘resources’ section. Attendees could add the materials of their choice to the ‘swag bag’ and then email it to themselves to review even after the event had concluded.
Without in person events, NHS was pressed with concern for conducting their annual recruitment fair. NHS recruitment officials recognized the need for an innovative and dynamic virtual recruitment fair. This would have all the security for health concerns and have continued, if not greater, reach to job applicants.
vFairs was an established virtual event platform that offers unique features such as a 3D virtual environment. A virtual exhibit hall also enabled their partners to showcase their opportunities in virtual booths.
As their first ever virtual event, NHS found that not a lot of people visited the chatrooms. From their data analysis in the backend, they realized that these were young individuals. These people prefer texting rather than speaking face to face. For this reason, there was low attendance in the booths as well. They realized that they need to be more proactive in order to encourage networking and engagement. However, they also felt their seminars were so informative, that attendees did not feel the need to ask questions.
Claire, Jacobsen-Jones, Recruitment Marketing Advisor from NHS. further stated that, since it was her first time, she did not fully make use of vFairs unique features. Such as marketing assistance, gamification features and the announcement features. She hopes to be able to use them more next time.
The NHS concluded that there was a sharp turnaround. They viewed success in the number of applications they got, “and we got a number of signups which shows that the event did well”, says Richard, Head of Workforce Planning South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The team was thrilled with how the event turned out. Up to 600 participants attended, and on average 75 people attended each of the 22 diverse seminars.
Claire stated “The controlled participant mic feature was excellent so as to avoid overlaps in speaking. If there were any questions they were posed in the chat during presentations”. She also said, “The Project manager was superb! When I reached out to them about low participation in the auditorium, they immediately sent out an announcement that increased attendance!”
After circulating a feedback form, NHS found that participants also considered the virtual recruitment fair a wonderful success. Attendees and partners said the vFairs software was easy to use and to set up. They had very minor issues which were dealt with swiftly and efficiently by the assigned vFairs project manager. It provided an enriching virtual experience.
The scavenger hunt was particularly received well as it increased engagement. The live seminars took place smoothly as well as the pre-recorded sessions.
“We didn’t really know what to expect. But it was a good first event with some lessons learnt,” Claire said.
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