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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case GB-2020-12/1788 – measures in United Kingdom

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities: A pilot to overhaul hiring processes in the wake of COVID

Country United Kingdom , applies regionally
Time period Open ended, started on 20 March 2020
Type Company practices
Category Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery
– Active labour market policies, incl. subsidised job creation
Author Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound
Case created 11 March 2021 (updated 11 May 2021)

Background information

The background is the UK's first lockdown in March 2020 and ongoing developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case study organisation is the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), which represents the 32 local authorities in Scotland. COSLA runs myjobscotland, a national recruitment website for public sector jobs across nearly all Scottish local authorities. Since launching in 2008, the platform not only advertises around 40,000 jobs each year, but also has an applicant tracking system that helps councils streamline their hiring process.

But when the pandemic hit and the prime minister issued his ‘stay at home’ message, the organisation saw an almost overnight move from 5% of public sector staff working from home to more than 80%. Their issue was that there were numerous people within recruitment processes but that COSLA could no longer arrange organise face-to-face interviews as part of those processes.

With vacancies still needing to be filled despite the lockdown restrictions, the organisation had to quickly come up with an alternative process, all the while further hindered by the usual challenges of tighter council budgets and limited resources.

Content of measure

Like many organisations, COSLA considered making use of popular videoconferencing platforms as a virtual alternative to conducting interviews. However, this would have been difficult to streamline with its applicant tracking system. Instead, the project coordinators realised that their current system offered the option for candidates to add a video as part of their application, and so piloted using this with 10 councils.

Candidates were asked to put a video together, answering questions they would usually be asked at the interview stage. Not only was this a relatively quick process to roll out, but all the data could be tracked, and hiring managers just had to log in to the system as normal to view it, which saved COSLA time spent on training.

Use of measure

To date, more than 5,200 candidates have produced a video as part of their application process, and 253 roles across Scotland have been filled using this system over the last year.

COSLA found that the new process created greater efficiency when recruiting. For example, the time to offer for vital home career vacancies reduced from 74 days to 15 days, and time to hire decreased from 119 days to 44 days.

Feedback from candidates has also been positive: one applicant with dyslexia said they relished the opportunity to not type out lengthy text responses. It also highlighted how “archaic” the recruitment process was before and that the change in practices imposed by the pandemic could be the shift needed for what is typically a very traditional sector to become more digital in the future.

Moreover, given how varied public sector jobs are, managers have been generally positive about the addition of video to the application process. They have found that it provided them with a real insight into the candidate and gave recruiters an idea of candidates' soft skills.

The organisation now plans to work with the remaining councils so as to roll out the new system.

Contents

  • Other topics

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Unemployed
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Local / regional government
Employer
Regional funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level

Involvement

No involvement; this is company practice albeit at a consortium level. The Consortium oversees recruitment and selection for public sector bodies in Scotland. Social partners thus have no involvement in what is essentially managerial practice.

Views and reactions

No reactions; this case relates to improved recruitment in response to the pandemic.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      O - Public Administration And Defence; Compulsory Social Security O84 Public administration and defence; compulsory social security
      Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities Q87 Residential care activities
      Q88 Social work activities without accommodation

This case is not occupation-specific.

Sources

  • 25 February 2021: How the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities overhauled its hiring processes in the wake of Covid (www.peoplemanagement.co.uk)

Citation

Eurofound (2021), The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities: A pilot to overhaul hiring processes in the wake of COVID, case GB-2020-12/1788 (measures in United Kingdom), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.