Event Roundup – Hiring for Tomorrow: Screening speed dating series
In this webinar, we heard from representatives from the Better Hiring Institute, the APPG for modernising employment, and DSIT to discuss the legislative changes and work currently taking place in hiring.
Keith Rosser: Director of Reed Screening and Chair of the Better Hiring Institute
Andrew Henderson: Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modernising Employment
Devon Troup: Digital Identity Legislation Lead at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Faster, fairer, and safer hiring
Keith spoke about the need for transformation and reform in hiring in the UK, evident in the 1.1 million vacancies and the slow, inefficient processes we’re currently working with.
The BHI are working to address these issues, and make hiring faster, fairer and safer.
10th July marked the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modernising Employment, with the session focused on how we make UK hiring the fastest globally.
Representatives from Royal Mail and NHS Professionals spoke on key issues that need resolving in the hiring process, as well as the importance of faster hiring. 1 in every 75 vacancies currently outstanding in the UK is for either the NHS or Royal Mail, so the need to speed up hiring is particularly pertinent for these organisations.
Challenges to faster hiring include the widespread use of manual hiring processes, as well as lack of alignment between regulatory bodies forcing the completion of unnecessary checks. However, Keith mentioned that the most pervasive challenge was around tradition, custom, and red tape, where across the UK industries and sectors, regulators, trade bodies, and groups have developed their own organic rules for hiring, which has led to complexity and confusion.
For example, the emergence of digital identity and digital right to work has sped the process up significantly, however, in certain cases such as DBS checks, there’s still a requirement for applicants to produce physical documents to prove their address. This sort of red tape holds up hiring processes considerably, and has also been shown to be susceptible to fraud very easily on illegal websites, and therefore provide no extra safeguarding or security.
Other challenges and opportunities include:
- Inclusivity in Digital Right to Work – work is already in hand to resolve the restrictions around who can use digital right to work (currently only holders of an in-date passport can participate) to include a wider range of ID documents.
- Portability – the ability to make hiring checks more portable for people moving between jobs would speed hiring processes up significantly.
- Cutting through tradition, custom, and red tape – hiring requirements born out of tradition are slowing down hiring processes, causing extended economically inactive time where people are not able to contribute taxes, or help to reduce workloads.
- Transparency – a recent report stated that 50% of people who have started a new job this year had previously dropped out of a hiring process in 2023 because they hadn’t been given enough information up front, including information on salary, benefits, working arrangements, or flexible working.
To address these, the BHI have submitted a 10-point plan for faster hiring, which is being sent to government ministers.
The Better Hiring Institute has also been creating free best practise toolkits for industries to help organisations know what the best practise in their sector is and offer additional information such as where to report recruitment agencies that haven't done the right thing or how to help improve transparency in supply chains, plus further advice on implementing fair inclusive hiring processes.
Importantly, however, the BHI are developing these toolkits to align standards and hiring frameworks, and therefore drive innovation. With aligned requirements and rules for each industry, developments such as digital identity, digital right to work, and other innovations can be better supported.
This year, the BHI has a plan to launch toolkits that represent over 80% of the UK labour market, all developed in association with sector related bodies and DBS.
The removal of barriers is critical to promote fairer hiring, and the BHI are currently developing a 10-point plan to address this.
Barriers that represent significant challenges to fair hiring include:
Hiring practise – this includes how job adverts are worded and presented, whether qualifications are asked for on job adverts, requiring experience for entry level or graduate jobs, the questions asked at interview, where and how interviews take place, how people with gaps in their employment history are dealt with etc.
Trust in technology – in order to promote the use of technology in the hiring process, applicants and candidates need to be sure that fairness and security is built in. The BHI are working to provide answers to how we protect job seekers through IDSP, and how can we protect job seekers who are applying for work online.
Unnecessary red tape - for instance, the NHS supply chains mandate in-person right to work checks, not taking advantage of the increased security and expedience of using digital right to work checks.
Collective regulation - Promoting the concept of collective regulation, balancing the requirements of the regulator as well as the wants and needs of businesses in that sector.
Keith spoke about Reed Screening’s work to innovate within the hiring process. This has included:
Digital referencing – Reed Screening has been pioneering the use of open banking and government gateway data to replace referencing where it's safe to do so. Where detailed referencing is not required for safeguarding, confirmation of dates of work and employment history through these alternative methods can replace the current referencing techniques and accelerate the slowest part of the hiring process.
AI-driven screening – through the roll-out of Reed Screening’s new screening and hiring platform, which has been in development internally for the past 2.5 years, the screening process has been made significantly faster. The platform automatically runs checks, and automatically processes clear results, with humans only needing to be involved in more complex cases.
Promoting better ways of hiring – by working with government and industry, Reed Screening have been promoting innovation within the hiring process. Through a study of 70,000 hires, Reed Screening showed that 82% opted for the digital route to verify right to work. Hires completed the process in 3.5 minutes and were able to start work 1 week sooner than those going through the manual process, representing a big impact on tax revenues and businesses dealing with workload and waiting lists.
Supplier innovation of the year winner - Reed Screening were recently awarded a prize for supplier innovation of the year at an industry award ceremony for their work in transforming UK hiring.
Working for the future of hiring
Andrew spoke about the APPG for Modernising Employment, and the important work they are doing to identify policy changes that can revolutionise hiring for the modern world.
What is an APPG?
An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) consists of Members of both Houses who join together to pursue a particular topic or interest. All-Party Parliamentary Groups cover a diverse range of subjects and are established for a rich variety of purposes. They provide a valuable opportunity for parliamentarians to engage with individuals and organisations outside Parliament who share an interest in the subject matter of their Group. They are not however official parliamentary bodies, and Groups must avoid presenting themselves in a way which leads to their being confused with select committees.
The Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, which is maintained by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, is a definitive list of such groups. It contains financial and other information about Groups which the House has decided should be published. The Register is published on the parliamentary website and updated approximately every six weeks.
What does the APPG for Modernising Employment do?
The APPG for Modernising Employment was set up in 2023 and is sponsored by the Better Hiring Institute. Its meetings are open to everyone with an interest in hiring and work, and it’s chaired by Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West.
The work of the APPG will gather information on how to beneficially modernise employment, initially focusing on topics that include:
- Making UK hiring the fastest globally.
- Improving opportunities for everyone in the UK labour market, by making hiring fully inclusive.
- Harnessing the latest technology to help reduce barriers to hiring, helping more people get into work as well as protecting workers from scams, fraud and discrimination.
- Making UK labour market regulation the smartest globally, by developing the concept of ‘Collective Regulation’ to fairly balance the needs of growth, fair treatment for workers and fair competition for businesses.
The APPG will meet (when Parliament is in session) to discuss various topics and take evidence. This is then used by the Chair, Emma Hardy, to form the basis of a letter to the relevant Minister. Typically, this would highlight whatever the situation is and bring some aspect of policy that is not working or needs to be looked at to the Minister’s attention.
The APPG may also undertake inquiries on particular areas of interest in order to collect evidence for the purposes of answering their designed question. These are more comprehensive than a single meeting and typically, they involve gathering evidence from industry, academic and NGO sources through questionnaires then evidence meetings. From this a conclusion is formulated for the Chair, who can then present this to the Minister or use it to invite the Minister to speak to the APPG. Inquiries tend to be more in-depth in their nature and may take several months to complete.
How can I get involved?
APPGs are open and transparent. The APPG has a calendar of events, and meetings are advertised to encourage participation. The aim of the meetings is to allow the industry experts to meet both parliamentarians and other industry members to share ideas, comments etc.
The APPG’s website is intended to be a resource for the industry, and contributions of documents or papers for sharing are welcome.
Digital ID legislation
Devon spoke about the new bill being discussed in Parliament to enable the widespread use of digital ID.
What are the benefits of widespread digital identity use?
Digital identities enable people to prove things about themselves, such as their age or address. This is increasingly useful, if not essential, in an increasingly digital world. Digital identities can be more convenient, more cost effective and safer than scanning and sending physical documents.
- Economic and efficiency savings - the use of secure digital identities should save British businesses and consumers time and money, and a conservative estimate from Deloitte is a ceiling of £800 million per year across the UK economy.
- Increased convenience – Digital identities makes it easier for individuals and businesses to access services while maintaining privacy and security.
- Data security – With digital identities, people need only share the data required.
- Fraud reduction – increased digital security measures should make fraud more difficult.
How is the Department for Science, Innovation, & Technology enabling this change?
in September 2020 DCMS, now DSIT published a response to the Digital Identity Call for Evidence, outlining the principles and strategies to enable the widespread use of reusable, interoperable digital identities across the UK economy. In response, DSIT committed to:
- Creating a framework of rules that show what ‘good’ digital identities look like to underpin trustworthy, interoperable products.
- Establishing a governance and oversight function to own these rules, keep them up to date, and make sure they are followed.
- Developing legislative proposals to create a secure list of trusted providers, enable trust mark issuance, and permit sharing of trusted government-held attributes.
...all while focusing on privacy, inclusion and international interoperability.
Where are we now?
Trust framework - A third (beta) iteration of UK digital identity and attributes trust framework was published in June 2022. Robust testing is underway, including a series of large, in-person policy-development events and a sandbox testing platform.
Governance - “Live” pre-employment, pre-rental and criminal record checks are already happening under the interim UKAS-accredited certification scheme. The Office of Digital Identities and Attributes will be established after legislation. It will own the public Register of certified providers and issue ‘trust marks’.
Legislation - Necessary legislative measures are part of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill - a confirmed Government priority.
How might digital identities and attributes be used?
In financial services, travel, property transactions, age-restricted products, and business identity, digital ID can provide reduced costs, improved efficiency, privacy and fraud benefits.
DSIT are working, for example, with the Treasury on enabling digital identity in the financial services sector, and an international team is working on international interoperability and much like in travel, in property transactions the need for identity verification is often repeated. Digital ID is a secure, fast and reusable way of proving identity.
In employment and hiring, whether it's for completing employment checks, employment history, qualification certificates and enabling these for assets carried out digitally, digital IDs will reduce costs and speed up processes.
An overview of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2 )Bill
Part 2 of the bill has 17 measures under the title Digital Verification Services, which is how the bill refers to digital identity and legislation terms.
Trust framework (clauses 48, 49, and 55)
The Bill defines the digital identity services, introduces the trust framework, and outlines how and when it should be updated. It’s proposed that there will be an annual review, but small changes may be made outside of this.
It also gives the Secretary of State the power to require top up certificates which can be used when the trust framework has been updated in a minor way, meaning that organisations can avoid full re-application to maintain their certification, and instead only apply against the new rules.
Operational governance (clauses 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 61, and 62)
These measures give powers to the Secretary of State to carry out the operational governance and oversight of digital identity services enabled by the Bill. These functions will be carried out by the Office for Digital Identities and Attributes, a team of civil servants within the department.
The DVS register (Digital Verification Services Register) will be a publicly available register, on which any organisation fulfilling the required criteria must be listed. Criteria include completing an application process, paying the relevant fee, and holding a certificate from an accredited certification body. Organisations on the register will be issued a trust mark, indicating to organisations and the general public that they are dealing with a trusted digital identity organisation.
The Bill also requires that the register is kept up to date, and that any organisation that has their certification revoked against the trust framework must be removed from the register. It also empowers the Secretary of State to remove organisations from the register in response to security concerns, for example.
The Bill also enables the Secretary of State to require certifying bodies and organisations on the DVS Register to provide the department with reasonable information. This could be for inclusion or monitoring purposes. However, information requests have to be proportionate, meaning for example details about an organisation’s commercial relationships would be considered unreasonable.
Strategic Governance (clauses 63 and 64)
These measures allow the Secretary of State to delegate all of these functions to a third party, which builds in flexibility for the Office of Digital Identities and Attributes to move outside of DSIT, where it will be housed initially once the legislation is passed.
These clauses also set out the requirement for the Secretary of State to publish an annual report on the operation of this part of the Bill, the terms of which are not defined in legislation but are likely to include an assessment of how the market is functioning as well as monitoring on inclusion.
Information disclosure (clauses 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60)
These measures enable public authorities (any organisation carrying out a public task) to share information with trust marked identity service providers for the purpose of identity and eligibility verification. However, that can only happen at the request of the user, which differs to consent. Organisations will need to show that the user has made that request for the identity checks to be made.
The Bill enables public authorities to charge for a check to be made against data in order to recover the costs of the disclosure. The legislation doesn't dictate how those costs will be set, however, all public charging has to be carried out in line with managing public money guidance or its devolved equivalents.
It attaches a criminal offence to the misuse of tax information, which is standard for any onward sharing of tax data without the permission of each of HMRC, the Welsh Revenue Authority and Revenue Scotland.
These measures also require our Secretary of State to produce the code of practise for public authorities to use alongside the legislation, and that code will apply to all types of public authorities who wish to share data through this gateway. This code will be consistent with the Information Commissioner's Office, their data sharing good practise and will consult the ICO when preparing this code. The code won't place any new obligations on public authorities, rather it just sets out the key steps and considerations around the use of this information sharing gateway, and it will highlight other relevant legislation running alongside this Bill.
Insights from our attendees
We took the opportunity to get a gauge on the experiences and opinions of our attendees.
What remains the most time consuming part of the hiring process?
Referencing – 77%
Obtaining information from candidates – 14%
Criminal record checks – 7%
Proving qualifications – 0%
Would you like to hear from the Better Hiring Institute about the work of the APPG?
Yes – 72%
No – 28%
What is the most important digital identity consideration for your organisation?
Fraud Prevention – 42%
Speed – 23%
Security – 23%
According to over three quarters of our attendees, referencing still remains the most time-consuming part of the hiring process, showing that the work being done to accelerate this is badly needed.
With 72% of our attendees wishing to hear more about the work of the APPG, there is evidently appetite for and interest in the work of the group.
Fraud prevention, according to 42% of our attendees is the most important consideration when it comes to Digital ID, while speed and security were joint second at 23%, and privacy was third at 9%.
Questions from our attendees
I appreciate the Data Information Bill is still a bill, so nothing is certain, but is there anything you can say to employers who use IDSP or are thinking of using IDSP about the bill that will be relevant in terms of governance or rules for Digital IDs going forward?
Devon: Absolutely. We've got the right to rent, right to work, and DBS checks already in train. Legislation hasn't passed yet, but once we have this legislative underpinning - and I should mention we are looking at the right to work and right to rent checks and right now it's recommended that organisations use certified identity service providers to carry out these checks. We are looking at giving that statutory footing as well if that's appropriate.
But the creation of the register is going to be quite a fundamental part of building trust in this market, because right now we just have a list of certified IDSPs on gov.uk, whereas the register will have that kind of publicly available list, but it will also be electronic as well and enable organisations to check that quickly and electronically. So you know immediately which kind of organisations you can trust, which IDSP from that list has met the baseline standards for what identity use looks like, and then I think secondly the data sharing gateway is going to be a really huge advancement in the current right to rent, right to work checks, where there is still a physical aspect with the address checking. Whereas once information is available, whether that's held by the Home Office or DWP or the local council, to prove that this is your address and this is where you've lived for X number of years, we'll be able to streamline that process and hopefully make those checks even faster.
And it's really, it's really brilliant to see, I think on your first couple of slides there, 82% had opted to make those checks digital. It’d be great to see that increase, great to see it faster and from more and more certified organisations - I think we've currently got 42.
Keith: Thank you, Devon. And it's estimated about 30% of IDSPs aren’t certified so 42 plus that 30% group as well. So I think for employers to know that all IDSPs in future potentially will be certified, I think will be very positive as well. Although it might be a journey, take heart in the idea that we might be able to remove things like proof of address paper checking in future, I think would be great. Certainly we get a lot of feedback from employers that are having to use physical documents - it’s becoming increasingly difficult when even bank statements and things are online and now work seekers don't even have the documents at all.
One of the challenges for transforming hiring is that it crosses over so many government departments, and that's probably one of the reasons why hiring has never been truly modernised. In your experience does an APPG potentially have a role in bringing parts of government together and push change forward?
Andrew: Well, yes, I mean I guess it would be wrong to say that an APPG can somehow wave a magic wand.
And I mean, this is a general problem when dealing with government. But it is possibly the same when dealing with any large company or big organisation. We all as human beings tend to organise ourselves into silos. And it can make it very difficult when trying to get government to move. I mean this is where the chair comes in. And whilst I can't claim to know Emma [Hardy, MP for Hull West and chair of the APPG] well, I did get the impression that she will be quite dogged at tracking down the right person.
If you go onto the government’s various departmental websites, it will breakdown the responsibilities of each government minister, but it even then it’s difficult to work out which one we should be talking to, particularly if you look at a very narrow area.
With digital identity of course, which is another interest of mine cause I run the APPG on that, we've got one government department doing policy looking outwards to the private sector, and another government department building a public sector digital identity scheme. I guess it might be the case of you wouldn't start from here, but it is difficult. It very much depends on the chair and the good thing about APPGs is they bring that cross-party element. So if Lord Lucas and Emma Hardy need to team up to pursue a particular issue then effectively they've got the vast majority of Members of Parliament behind them, because they represent the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. So it's that cross party consensus, which we're trying to get to, which really helps. So it's not a political thing; for example if I do this, I'll please that party. But It's actually getting a cross party consensus. This is what should be done and you've got support from both sides. That's the key.
Digital hiring is a fast-moving area, with new developments happening all the time. Reed Screening is hosting regular events where you can keep up to date with the latest news and share your opinion on policy and process changes.
Below are a few of the upcoming events you can get involved with:
- Thu, Aug 10, 2023: How hiring is changing: Bringing about the future of hiring - Join us to hear how the Better Hiring Institute and UK gov have been working to streamline, standardise and improve modern hiring practices
- Thu, Aug 31, 2023 : Qualified for the job? How to spot fake qualifications - As students receive their exam results, do you know how to check the right from the wrong to stop fraudsters entering your organisation?
- Thu, Sep 28, 2023 - A year of digital right to work - where do we go from here? - Hear from government & experts as they talk about what employers need to know now and in the future surrounding right to work.