Employing migrant workers


Case Study: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service - this will open in a new window

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service


Public Sector: Fire Authority


On Wednesday June 29th 1870 following a fire where two ladies died the Oxfordshire Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed with a handful of volunteers. In 1974 Oxford City and Oxford County Fire Brigades joined together to make the Service as we know it. Today it has more than 700 personnel dealing with 7,836 incidents per year.

Values and Approach to employment policy

One of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS) aims is to serve the people of Oxfordshire, something that we believe we can best do if we reflect the population of Oxfordshire within our workforce.

At the same time OFRS aims to recruit, train and retain the best people for the job. Historically when advertising for Fire Fighters we have predominantly attracted "white males" and have had very little interest from women or members of the ethnic minority communities, thus missing out on a significant pool of potential recruits.


For OFRS a key issue is to improve the diversity of its workforce. OFRS were founder members of the Oxfordshire Employers Race Equality Network (OEREN) a group of local employers who have come together to share experiences and ideas to improve their diversity and equality programmes. It was through such links and networks that contacts with Refugee Resource, a local voluntary organisation, Job Centre Plus and local colleges were formed.

Business Case/driver for employing migrant workers

For OFRS there is a clear link between seeking a workforce that reflects the local community and serving that community through community safety initiatives. So when Refugee Resource said they were looking for organisations who could provide refugees with basic workplace training this was the start of partnership working with several organisations including Refugee Resource, Job Centre Plus and local colleges, towards the recruitment of staff who were involved in the Fire Service and ambassadors for the Fire Service in their own Communities.

As part of the process as well as having placements for refugees through Refugee Resource, the OFRS's Human Resources department became proactive and designed in partnership with Abingdon and Witney College a Pre-employment Access course, aimed at women and members of the ethnic minority community. This included advertising for the course in predominately ethnic areas of Oxfordshire.

Models and Process

In seeking to improve the diversity of the workforce, liaising and working with the partner organisations was key to employing migrant workers, refugees and members of the ethnic minority community. OFRS worked closely with Abingdon and Witney college to provide key skills such as numeracy, literacy and interview skills. A protocol for recruiting refugees was designed.

Future Intentions

Further access courses will be run and positive action recruitment days will be arranged. OFRS will continue to strengthen its links through partnership working.


The recruitment protocol was written by OFRS as it needed to make its employees and managers aware that people with English as a second language may need more help and support with not only work based issues such as training, but that support might also be needed for day to day activities, such as opening a bank account, understanding work patterns and general work based health and safety issues.

Contact details

Vivien Trafford Human Resources Manager
Tel: 01865 855235
Email: vivien.trafford@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Sue Labbett Admin Services Manager
Tel: 01865 855276
Email: susan.Labbett@Oxfordshire.gov.uk


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