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Professional practice

Where have all the OTs gone?

searchHenny Pearmain, COT Professional Affairs Officer—Enquiries Service, has a question for you all regarding a recently discovered and unexplained phenomenon…

The College publications and website are probably the best way to advertise a role to an audience of occupational therapists. Recently we have become aware that organisations are having difficulty filling some posts. We receive feedback from those who advertise through us and we get managers ringing the Enquiry Service, asking us why we think this may be happening.

It seems strange to be hearing this when we also hear of occupational therapists who cannot find a job, especially at entry level, or those coming back into practice after a career break. We have not had enough examples to see if there are any patterns to these occurrences. What might be an explanation in each case?

It is interesting looking at the adverts which the employing organisations are putting together. They have started to ‘fish’ very widely, not specifying a grade, but opening a post, perhaps in a specialist location, to new graduates as well as experienced occupational therapists. What is not obvious is a commitment to the support and development that a new graduate would need in such a position.

A number of adverts are also stating that membership of BAOT is preferred. As BAOT is the trade union for occupational therapist, membership cannot be made a condition for employment. It is encouraging to note that employers put a value on membership of the professional body, along with the support and access to resources that this can provide.

Have you experienced difficulty recruiting to a post? Have you applied for a post against numerous others? What makes a potential job stand out to you in an advert? What do you want the advert to inform you of? If you tell us, we will pass the messages on and hopefully encourage employing organisations to make their adverts a little more useful and effective.


8 thoughts on “Where have all the OTs gone?

  1. A position advertised needs to show elements of flexibility. Working from home, flexible working hours, school hours, access to pool car, training etc. I locumed for a number of years because as a temp member of staff not only did I earn more but it offered far more flexibility than permanent posts. Had I not emigrated I would never have sought a permanent post again!

    Posted by Nikki Hulse | April 14, 2014, 11:17
  2. For me its inservice training, cpd, opportunity for development and the trust’s commitment for this.
    Flexible working as an option.

    Posted by Layla Hibbs | April 14, 2014, 16:35
  3. I think that the current climate of job safety may play a part – many OT’s I network with would love to leave their current position but everyone is frightened of going from frying pan into the fire. You may start a new job and then all of a sudden the department goes through a skills review and your new job is then under scrutiny. Adverts that I see in the market place, are much more select too – with many stipulations with MUST have this experience and that experience which may act as a barrier to applying if you have specialised in something else. Also if you are currently a band 6 like myself, many places will want you to start at the bottom of band 6 again which will put anyone off if they are near to band 7 on the pay scale. Maybe those who are advertising – need to send out a survey monkey to registered OT’s through COT and ask, what would put you off from applying for this position and see what the responses say?

    Posted by Karen Miles | April 14, 2014, 17:00
  4. I am an ot who was tupe transferred to the voluntary sector following commissioning changes. I was transferred into a role that was not professional. I cannot say more as my case is going to an employment tribunal but , I advise all ots to have their ot status written into their contracts of employment so that they may be afforded some recognition.

    I am now in a position where I am looking for work and the most important factor is flexibility . I implore emoyets to consider pt and job share staff when placing adverts for ft posts .

    Posted by Jos | April 14, 2014, 18:01
  5. I completely agree with the need for more part time working or job share options. I qualified last year and feel lucky to be in a part time band 5 post. I am having to travel far more than I would like however because it’s the only part time band 5 I can find. Family commitments mean that I’m not able to work full time and this has severely limited the number of jobs that I can consider applying for.

    Posted by queengiraffe | April 14, 2014, 18:50
  6. I work in a school for children with Autism. We find it difficult to recruit and this has been the case for all other schools for children with Autism that I have worked in (whether local education authority or independent) and seemed to apply to SLT recruitment as well as OT recruitment. These have been in large towns and cities including London.

    I’ve always wondered why this was as jobs in paediatrics are anecdotally in such high demand and very sought after. And we get school holidays!! The only reason I can think is that people don’t want to specialise in one area?! My current school is local authority so similar perks and security to working in the NHS with what appears to be more opportunities for training (most of the NHS therapists I meet on courses have self funded their training). Perhaps people feel that they would rather stick with the NHS because this is more familiar? Or more valued maybe? Perhaps they are concerned about working in a smaller team. It’s always flummoxed me that therapists aren’t really keen to go for these posts. Would appreciate any thoughts on this.

    Posted by Carrie | April 14, 2014, 18:51
  7. I am currently assisting a HR manager regarding advertising for an OT. They placed a 1/3 page colour ad out for 2 OT’s in the OT journal and got a very poor result. Having looked at the advert it was vague, it mentioned the company’s pay scale rather then a recognised Band 5/6/ or 7 which could be confusing. It was unclear what experience was actually needed and in which specific field. I also flagged up to her that they could only insist on HCPC registration and not BAOT membership as the advert stated.
    I think there needs to be some education with non OT managers regarding the Banding of OT’s as I am aware of someone who has had less than 6 months working experienced has been offered a Senior I post! Thankfully the OT involved declined it stating they were not experienced for the role.

    Posted by Yas Yadi | April 15, 2014, 22:58
  8. I could be wrong here as I qualified over 17 years ago but apart from my basic grade rotation I have always worked in social care and always for organisations that desperately needed OTs. When I was training if you had a social services placement you were considered to have drawn the short straw and that has typically been the thoughts of students I have had on placements. I think there needs to be better promotion, experience, practice placements etc within non NHS roles. It appears that most of the OTs struggling to find work are wanting positions within NHS and yet there are plenty social care Dept’s crying out for OTs.

    Posted by Nikki Hulse | April 17, 2014, 23:40

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