Lack of English a barrier to recruitment of workers from Bulgaria and Romania

Posted on January 26th, by geoff in Caring Times, Caring Times head. No Comments

Caring Times, February 2014

While national debate continues about the likely effects of a possible influx of workers from Bulgaria and Romania, it seems few of them will be working in care homes.

While the care sector has acquired a reputation as an employer of cheap labour from overseas, with care home groups actively recruiting staff from the Philippines, India and Poland, it appears that tighter regulation by the UK Border Agency, combined with the fact that very few Bulgarians and Romanians can speak English, means care home operators do not see this new labour pool as one in which they can fish.

Three major provider associations contacted by Caring Times said they were unaware of any of their members seeking to employ Bulgarians or Romanians as care workers. Registered Nursing Home Association chief executive Frank Ursell said the language problem was the biggest difficulty.

“Poland is very different in that English is taught as a second language in the schools there, but that has not been the case in Bulgaria and Romania,” he said.

Provider groups contacted by Caring Times confirmed that they did not see the recent availability of workers form Easter Europe as any kind of panacea for their recruitment difficulties. Care UK typified the general response: “Care UK is a popular choice for people wanting to further their career in health or social care,” a spokesman said.

“Anyone applying for a role with us has to meet a set of strict criteria which includes a compassionate, caring attitude and a good grasp of the English language as well as the usual job-based skills and knowledge. Like any employer we consider candidates from other European countries but we’ll be looking for good language skills as well as the right attitude and necessary qualifications.”

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