Inclusive employment

Focuses on both employers and employees. Looking at how organisations can create better pathways into work whilst understanding the barriers people face to accessing employment.

Older man working at a desk in Oxfordshire

The Challenge

Oxfordshire has an extremely tight labour market with low levels of unemployment and high job density. Low employment coupled with a shortage of people actively searching for work is causing recruitment and retention issues for employers across the county.  

Unemployment increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic - though it has been decreasing since 2021 it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. As well as the people who are registered as unemployed there is also an additional group who are classed as ‘economically inactive’. This means that they are not in employment for a range of reasons and are not claiming for support from the state. Groups within the ‘economically inactive’ include people like students and people who are retired but there are also people who have been unable to find employment for a variety of reasons but are talented, motivated candidates who with the right support and opportunity can help address the county’s skill shortage.

Challenges for Employers

Over half of employers struggle to fill vacancies due to skills shortages, according to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Thinking outside the box about recruitment and exploring new talent pools can help to overcome such challenges.

Challenges for Employees

UK unemployment is at its lowest rate for years and overall employment rates for women and young people are rising. However, people furthest from the labour market are still being left behind. Youth unemployment is still high. People with disabilities still struggle to gain employment and ex-military personnel are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as civilians. People with criminal convictions are still widely discriminated against and, despite having the right to work, refugees face barriers in terms of qualifications, language and documentation.

Supporting evidence

Recruiting inclusively is beneficial to employers as well as employees. An inclusive recruitment strategy gives companies an edge over competitors and makes them an employer of choice. Being an inclusive employer can bring benefits of improved recruitment and retention of staff as well as accessible, stable, fairly paid work for employees helping to address some of the key issues faced in Oxfordshire. Aside from the very real, positive impact of changing individuals’ lives, employing a more diverse workforce can benefit your business in the following way:

• Resolve skills shortages

• Be cost-effective

• Increase staff retention

• Reduce staff absence

• Improve client relationships

• Upskill the existing workforce and boost morale

• Demonstrate a social conscience

• Boost corporate reputation

What we're doing

Our focus is on both encouraging employers to be more inclusive and helping specific groups of potential employees who are more likely to experience barriers to accessing employment such as migrants/refugees, people aged 16-25 and 50+, people returning to work after a long break, and people from ethnic minorities.   

Creating opportunities for individuals in our county creates opportunities for businesses and for employers, including growing the local labour market with improved skills and access to a greater diversity of talent and capabilities.   

The adoption of inclusive recruitment policies can prove beneficial to employers as well as employees by maximising an innovative workforce. An inclusive recruitment strategy gives companies an edge over competitors and makes them an employer of choice.

Read our three simple steps to open recruitment

Related Actions

Find examples of organisations who are making positive change, or programmes your organisation can get involved in.

Workshop: exploring doughnut economics as a tool for building a regenerative economy

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Oxford Jobcentre Plus

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Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC)

Free resources and support for new and existing businesses or anyone with a business idea in Oxfordshire.

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Getting Oxfordshire Online

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Team Oxford: Growing employer volunteering in Oxford

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Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action (OCVA)

Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action is a non-profit organization that provides support and empowerment to volunteers, networks, partnerships, and non-profit organizations in Oxfordshire.

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Aspire: Hire2Inspire

Aspire's inclusive recruitment team Hire2Inspire work to create meaningful employment opportunities by matching the skills and needs of work-ready candidates and employers.

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OxLEP Business Support Tool

Complete this business tool to get targeted help and advice no matter what stage you are at - it will signpost you to the to the most appropriate business support, grant schemes and events.

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New Futures Network

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OxLEP - The Social Contract

OxLEP Skills has created a series of initiatives to help support those most impacted i.e. young people (aged 16-24 years), minority ethnic communities, those furthest from the labour market and the over 50s.

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Age-friendly Employer Pledge

The Age-friendly Employer Pledge is a nationwide programme for employers who recognise the importance and value of older workers from the Centre for Ageing Better

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GROW: Good Recruitment for Older Workers

We know that 36% of 50-69 year olds feel at a disadvantage applying for jobs due to their age. This toolkit is looking at ways of reducing age bias and discrimination in the recruitment process.

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Aspire: Employment support for refugees

Aspire Oxfordshire provides specialist support to refugees and migrants throughout Oxfordshire to find employment, training, work experience, or education.

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Aspire: Prison leaver support

Aspire Oxfordshire provides specialist support to people who are in custody or have recently left prison to find employment, training, work experience, or education.

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Community Employment Plans (CEPs) - Developers handbook

Community Employment Plans (CEPs) aim to enhance training, employment and skills opportunities resulting from major development and generate inclusive economic activities for local communities in Oxfordshire. This handbook provides guidance and explains the process of developing a CEP.

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Recruiting Great People for Warrens Bakery

See a case study of how Seetec Pluss support businesses to recruit brilliant staff who have faced barriers to employment in the past.

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Smarter Way to Recruit - Disability Confident

Are you struggling to recruit the right people for your jobs? Tap into the talents of disabled people, hear best practices from other employers, and be inspired by top tips and success stories

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Disability Confident

Disability Confident Employer Scheme provides information about employing disabled individuals and how the scheme can assist businesses in doing so.

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Back on track: Improving employment support for over 50s jobseekers

'Back on track: Improving employment support for over 50s jobseekers' from the Centre for Ageing Better addresses the challenges faced by individuals in their 50s and 60s when seeking employment.

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Chaired by: Richard Venables

Richard Venables

Richard is an Oxfordshire native who studied Geography at Exeter University before qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor in London in 1993. He returned to Oxford that same year and has since specialized in providing commercial property advice. Richard is currently a trustee of Oxfordshire Youth, Active Oxfordshire, and Experience Oxfordshire. He is also a member of the Oxford Economic Growth Steering Group and is a Vice President of the Oxford Civic Society. Richard is actively engaged with sport through the charity Access Sport and is part of the founding team of Horspath parkrun.

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