Event Roundup: The future of hiring: Plans to transform the way the UK hires

Event Roundup: The future of hiring: Plans to transform the way the UK hires

In one of our recent webinars, we spoke to representatives from the Better Hiring Institute (BHI) and DCMS about the digitalisation of hiring including the Data Reform Bill and what it means to overhauling hiring and onboarding.

Presenting were:

Keith Rosser, Home Office ECHO committee member, Chair of the CRTB, BHI chair and director of Reed Screening

Alison McDowell. BHI Advisory Board Member, Co-Founder of Beruku Identity and Digital Identity Advisor at DCMS

Chris Milligan, founder and CEO of Konfir.

The current hiring landscape

Post-pandemic, the UK’s employment recovery has been the slowest in the G7, with far more vacancies than pre-pandemic, and unemployment at record lows. In fact, it’s expected that employee turnover will continue to increase - some Amazon warehouses have 150% turnover, meaning they’re losing employees faster than they can bring them in.

Alison McDowell outlined a number of reasons as to why this might be the case:

  • An increase in long-term sickness, particularly affecting women, likely as a result of COVID and a lack of health support for long term effects.
  • Older professional men are opting out of the labour market aged 50-70, which is unusual in the G7. Therefore focussing on youth employment will be critical, but we also need to find out how to bring these experts back into the labour market.
  • Weaker forces keeping employees in their seats - people working remotely dilutes connections to workplaces, and employees don't feel as connected to the company or their colleagues.
  • A shift in employees moving jobs due to flexibility, to a need to move for higher salaries.
  • The pool of potential employers has also increased, as flexible working means that people can work from anywhere and therefore have more choice.

Alison highlighted that there is no reason to believe that the high turnover levels will stop being an issue in the future - this is how employers will have to manage their workforce going forwards, and therefore the recruitment process needs to adapt to this new landscape.

What changes need to be made?

As well as the changing employment landscape in the UK, recruiters also need to be adapting their screening and hiring processes to the fact that we are moving into the 4th Industrial Revolution – a shift from simple digitisation to innovation based on a combination of technologies.

Keith Rosser explained that the need for change and innovation in hiring is apparent in the issues faced currently by airlines, who are unable to move enough new employees through the hiring and vetting processes quickly enough, and therefore businesses are suffering.

Therefore, the digitisation of hiring and screening processes is required to provide a quicker, fairer, and safer hiring process.

Additionally, customers and candidates expect that processes happen quickly, and that they have data ownership and consent. There’s an expectation that more and more parts of life are digitised, including the hiring process.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed organisational forms to digital and remote working models, which call for a need cater to remote hiring processes.

Changes in governance are also required, involving people from the recruitment industry and government coming together to provide assurance and being involved in the testing and development of new technology to plan digital hiring models in an agile way.

What developments have been made so far?

The digitalisation of the hiring process is well underway, with Right to Work and DBS checks now able to be completed digitally. Work is also happening to align proof of address to digital processes, too.

In the pipeline are a number of other developments to digitise the hiring process, including:

  • Digital Careers, which involves digitising the CV process, work history, and referencing in the future for digital job applications.
  • Digital credentials, which will involve collaboration with academics to digitally confirm qualifications online.
  • Identifying name change in hiring. The UK government has raised concerns around sex offenders changing their names to get clear documents in order to get a job, which could potentially endanger vulnerable people. Reed Screening and the BHI have put forward alternatives to the initial proposal for employees to present original birth certificates, as this undermines all digital pathways. We need to go digital and stay digital.

What changes are coming?

Technology breakthroughs will be critical in the future of hiring – more and more automation in the workplace means more specialist employees will be required, increasing demand for gig or flexible employees with very specific skills. Technology within the hiring process will affect entire employee journey.


Digital ID

The widespread introduction of reusable interoperable digital identities is going to fundamentally change the employee experience - right now, digital IDs are used to prove Right to Work, but in future, people will have ownership over their own digital ID, and expect to be able to use it throughout the process and across different organisations. The acceptability of bringing in physical documents is likely to wane, and alongside improvements in customer journeys, there will be higher expectations for employee journeys. Developments to digital ID in the future include:

Digital referencing - Employment references bound to digital identity impact the whole journey and make it faster – it can also mean that digital identity can be used to get a job, as well as access benefits, health insurance, training, and perks, without the need for specialist logins.

Faster onboarding - Gig workers and specialists need to be able to bring credentials and qualifications with them, and need to start immediately, due to the nature of their short term employments. Digital identity will get them to work quicker.

Learning and compliance – employers need to be able to prove that employees have done the right learning, but organisations don't connect compliance systems with learning or skills platforms. Being able to link this to a digital identity will help people to port things across organisations.

Expats and inpats - as organisations manage capability globally, we’re likely to see companies moving specialist employees internationally so being able to reuse a digital identity between markets will vastly accelerate that process


Fairness is a concrete business issue, with increasing numbers of CEO's talking about it.

With older men leaving the workplace, organisations need to focus on younger and more diverse talent pools. For example, initiatives like Multiverse's tech apprenticeship programmes are bringing diverse talent into organisations.

Fairness also means transparency, for example making gender pay gap information available, and improving pay transparency in the application process. Improvements to be made in the process can include listing salary details on job adverts and removing questions about salary history from the process. This will allow for a levelling of the playing field for negotiations.


Developments in security are likely to include new ways to handle fraudulent job adverts. Scam investment schemes and fake job vacancies are a way for criminals to harvest people's data, and organisations like Jobsaware are focussing on ways to make sure that jobs being advertised genuine.

Safety is a key focus for parliament this year, and it will affect employers and employee screening. The Online Safety Bill makes it much less likely that illegal material will be encountered online and easier to report fraudulent job adverts.

The Data Reform Bill, a new data law post-Brexit, is not in parliament yet but is starting to be discussed. It includes legislation on digital identity and allows it to be used, unlocking systems for digital identities to be bound to employment checks and allowing employers to secure and expedite their screening processes. The bill is also designed around helping to protect candidates' data privacy.

Insights from our attendees

We took the opportunity to get a gauge on how our attendees were feeling about the transformations being discussed:

Have you chosen an IDSP (Identification Service Provider) yet?

  • Yes – 24%
  • No, but have started the process – 26%
  • No – 48%

Is hiring fair enough in the UK?

  • Yes – 19%
  • No – 46%
  • Not sure – 34%

Will technology every replace humans in hiring?

  • Yes, completely – 0%
  • Yes, in most cases – 35%
  • No – 64%

Almost half of our attendees agreed that hiring in the UK still needed to be fairer for jobseekers, while almost two thirds of our attendees believed that technology would never be able to replace humans within the hiring process. With 3 months to go before the Right to Work deadline, almost half of our attendees had not begun the process of finding an IDSP.

Questions from our attendees

As usual our attendees had a raft of questions for our presenters. We’ve included the most popular questions and answers below:

Will IDVT really speed up the recruitment process given the requirement to see an individual in person to ensure they're not an imposter?

Keith - good question. Generally employers continue to interview staff so this can be cross-checked via a video interview so the process can be streamlined. It's certainly faster than reverting to pre-COVID in person verification methods. We've put this question to the Home Office to understand how best to handle this and minimise steps in the process.

Alison - we're at the very start of the market right now so have a population of people who don't have digital identities, but in future we'll all have these so there'll be no need for candidates to sign up as part of the process. Yes, we still have to see them but it's important to remember that this will be faster and safer, not just maximising speed but not sacrificing security. That's where it really adds value. Seeing somebody over Zoom is fast but much less secure than using IDVT!

Keith - once we have portable/reusable identities ID verification can be handled automatically so only video interview will be needed.

Any concerns that organisations will be focussed on satisfying external audits?

Keith - we have to be cognisant of the fact that some organisations won't halt temporary adjusted checks but will make it look as if they aren't. We're talking to Home Office about how they'll audit this to prevent creating an unlevel playing field.

How to support people with convictions back into work?

New horizons venture but we've not yet seen a digital solution that could do that. We're very aware of how digital hiring can affect those with convictions and championing how to handle this fairly - it shouldn't be a filter question or one asked up front.

What happens next?

Digital hiring is a fast-moving area, and with many details still to be confirmed, Reed Screening is hosting regular events where you can stay up to date with the latest developments and share your opinion on the new processes.

Below is our next event that you can get involved with: 

1st September – Live event with UK Home Office - A free webinar covering the latest developments within Home Office and UK GOV impacting right to work checks for employers.