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100% vacancy fulfilment at top University

Client:  Russell Group University

Staffing types: Procurement, Finance, Administration, Marketing, HR, IT, Technical, Engineering, Business Analysts, Project Managers, Facilities & Estates, Catering, Driving, Cleaning

Number of employees: 7,500

Company overview: The university is a Russell Group and global top 100 University, providing quality higher education to over 6,500 students from around the world.  They are ranked in the top 20 in the Complete University Guide 2023 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

The challenge:

The use of agency staffing services across the university was complex and fragmented. The lack of coordinated compliance governance and cost management created opportunities to be work more efficiently.

With variable spend patterns on staffing arrangements and the high volume of agency staff pay and invoices to manage, processes were time-consuming and prone to human error. There were risks of non-compliance to IR35 regulations and right to work checks owing to disparate approaches to how each department procured and managed their staffing agencies.

The university recognised the need to streamline its agency supply chain. With each faculty and department working in isolation of each other, the university was missing the chance to manage cost, quality and benefit from economies of scale. The need to comply with Public Contract Regulations also formed an important driver for change.

The University decided to implement a Managed Service, and following a competitive tender process awarded the contract to Tate as the Managed Service Provider (MSP) to supply flexible staff and to deliver the following:

·         Cost savings from managing & rationalising the existing supply chain.

·         A standardised pay and charge matrix.

·         A preferred supplier list (PSL).

·         Remove the risk of non-compliance to temporary worker legislation & IR35 regulations.

·         Improve the staff procurement and supply process.

·         Improve visibility of spend and quality through central management information.

·         Consolidated invoice process across all suppliers to improve financial control, increase visibility and reduce cost.

·         Deployment of a Vendor Management System (VMS) for end-to-end management of the supply chain.

“The experience of working with the University over the last 2 years has been extremely rewarding and created a true partnership between our organisations. As with any large MSP contract, there are challenges to be addressed and adjustments to be made; but we’ve always worked in partnership to overcome any obstacle and deliver a great recruitment service to the University hiring community.” John O’Brien, Corporate Sales Director


The solution:

As the scope of supply encompasses a wide range of roles; Tate not only supplies many roles from its own candidate community, but it also engages with other agencies within the PSL to fill vacancies for cleaning and catering staff, through to interim finance, procurement and IT staff.

To source candidates, Tate implements a range of activities including featured listings on its own job board and website to profile the benefits of working for the University, social media advertising, attending local job fairs co-branded with the University and attending the University’s Open Days to engage with students for flexible or fixed-term work opportunities.

Service delivery is via a dedicated team that uses on-line technology to manage flexible worker requests as well as timesheets for all agency workers. It also provides the client with live Management Information on spend and qualitative data such as satisfaction levels, fulfilment statistics, time to hire, worker tenure, assignments completed, open vacancies, supplier rankings and pay trends.

Tate’s technology platform is central to the candidate screening and selection process, enabling hiring teams to screen and profile personalities, ensuring that only the most suitable candidates are shortlisted, saving valuable time to hire.

The Tate team works closely with the University’s Human Resources team to ensure their employer value proposition (EVP) is represented effectively.  Staff receive generous holiday allowance, a good pension contribution for permanent staff, and pay parity between permanent and flexible staff are well promoted in all adverts as key benefits.

Tate provides the University with market intelligence for permanent roles that they fulfill and deliver online coaching sessions for faculty hiring managers, on topics such as interviewing and managing for optimal team productivity.


The journey

Implementation started in early 2020, and the delivery team were asked to support the University earlier than the planned go-live date. This was due to high recruitment demands across various faculties, as a result of Covid related procedures, i.e. touchpoint cleaning, student catering, customer service support, and various remote administrative roles to assist day-to-day operations. 

As part of the launch of the new Managed Service, the dedicated Tate Account Team met with the 11 faculties and Professional Service departments via webinars and meetings to launch the new hiring process. To monitor feedback Tate have implemented satisfaction surveys for hiring managers and for candidates to share and promote feedback and ideas for ongoing development. 

The implementation of the contract was complex including a new hiring process launched to 11 departments and 250+ staff with a new vacancy approval process to ensure cost and quality controls were in place from day one.

A key standout point of success stories so far includes Tate’s strict compliance management to IR35 and Right to Work regulations. Tate assume full responsibility and have robust systems in place to manage the process.

Tate met with all suppliers interested in being on the PSL to understand their historic and current relationships, areas of strength and niche specialisms and then engaged the very best suppliers onto a partnership programme to support the University’s full breadth of job roles.

During the early stages of this partnership, invoicing was a critical part of the implementation of the new Managed Service. Tate worked with the university’s Accounts Payable team to establish a workflow that accommodated their systems, while providing hiring managers with the visibility they needed over current and projected spend per department. 

Since go-live, Tate has built-up a healthy talent pipeline of candidates who have been cleared to work at the University and are fully compliant and ready for service.  This results in vacancies being filled quickly.


The results

The efficiency of Tate’s online technology and staffing expertise has resulted in improvements on cost management, compliance and overall efficiency, year-on-year, demonstrating a highly successful MSP partnership.


·         100% fulfilment of all contingent worker roles with an approximate £3.5m annual spend.

·         24% reduction in the time taken to fill vacancies in the first year.   

·         178% more roles filled in the second year compared to year 1.

·         Less than 2% of flexible workers fail to complete their agreed assignment, keeping attrition very low.

·         Less than 3% declined an offer to work at the University, indicating a successfully targeted candidate attraction, engagement and onboarding strategy.


“Tate has sourced some really great candidates since I started working with them. They ensure that the candidates they put forward are suitable and have the relevant experience to carry-out the role we require.

The Tate team are friendly and approachable and the communication between them and us has been excellent. Their response time is fast, and they are a very supportive and informative team.”  University Hiring Manager.