How to coach foreign talent

As an expanding European Union Brings a new pool of talent to employers in
the UK, Margaret Kubicek asks how foreign workers are bring prepared to do
their jobs

The chronic skills shortage facing UK employers, particularly in sectors
such as construction, health and hospitality, is showing no signs of abating.
It’s not surprising, then, that many employers are looking abroad to expand
their talent pool – something that will become easier with the accession of 10
new countries to the European Union last month.

A recent survey by recruitment specialists Barkers, found that while only 39
per cent of employers had firm plans to recruit from accession countries, more
than double that amount – 72 per cent – see enlargement of the EU as a step
towards a greater global flow of labour. This suggests that training will take
on an increasingly international dimension. We ask what employers need to
consider when planning training for overseas recruits.

Yvonne Wimbleton
Assistant director of nursing, Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

All nurses that we recruit from overseas must undertake a period of
supervised practice for up to six months to get up to speed with regulatory
guidelines and the framework of practice within the NHS.

They also have cultural diversity training covering communication skills –
not English language, but body language, eye contact, those sorts of things.
The police also come in and talk about personal safety and the main elements of
risk here that might not be an issue in their home country.

General advice is given on opening a bank account or registering with a GP.
And there’s time built in for discussion of issues – it’s all very well
building a structured training programme, but they need to be able to ask
questions that may seem daft but are essential in terms of settling in.

Nurses also have mentors on the wards who are responsible for discussing
professional issues and we also have clinical facilitators who take on a
pastoral role.

Our last group had an ‘away-day’ of leadership training led by a management
consultant to get them used to working as a team. In various countries, nurses
are used to following the doctors’ orders, but we’re trying to teach them that
they are responsible for their own practice.

Nick Isles
Associates director, The Work Foundation

Training will need to address how you are going to integrate people from
diverse backgrounds into a multicultural environment, like the construction
industry. Arguably, you need some sort of inclusion strategy. For example, you
may want to provide English language lessons, but there’s also the need for
more sophisticated cultural training.

John Guthrie
Head of international management development, Hilton Group

As part of the Hilton online university, we’ve joined forces with a global
online English language provider called Global English.

There are a number of team members throughout the world who are given
licence to learn English online. That’s a tremendous life skill. Language is
the glue that binds us together, and it gives a great opportunity to overseas
workers to progress their careers within the company.

Louis Armstrong
CEO, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

A skills shortage in many UK industries is here to stay, for better or
worse. Demographic and economic factors mean that industry will rely
increasingly on controlled immigration of labour and skills from abroad to fill
the gap. This is inevitable and indeed desirable if the Government’s infrastructure
and housing targets are to be met. The construction industry would do itself a
huge favour by helping employees learn the language of the country in which
they are to live and work. This would result in a safer and more productive
workforce and should be devised to cover the specialised technical and
professional communication required by a particular industry.

Robert Peasnell
Managing director, Barkers London

Training should include an understanding of social issues that most of us
take for granted. Integrating workers from abroad is going to involve inducting
them culturally into the UK and just helping them settle in a bit more easily.
You’ve got this inevitable cultural adaptation that’s going to have to take
place and to a degree, that mitigates against [foreign workers] being seen as a
quick fix to fill skills gaps. Employers will need to assist with things like
finding a place to live, helping them open UK bank accounts – almost a ‘Welcome
to the UK’ pack. It’s a lot of basic, almost administrative, support, but it’s
going to help them focus on doing their job.

Sue Labett
Corporate services manager, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

It can be quite difficult to carry out the mandatory health and safety training
for foreign workers. It may take longer than usual and because of the legal
requirement, you may need to provide an interpreter. You need to be very particular
when you’re undertaking that kind of training that everyone understands it
fully. It’s about being flexible as an employer, for example, allowing a longer
probation period. We’re taking more care, doing more checking and including
more exercises for overseas workers in the process.

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