Charles Hunter Associates

Charles Hunter Associates is an owner-operated specialist recruitment agency placing qualified social work, social care and nursing candidates in contract and permanent roles across the UK. Based in Reading, it has provided workers to more than 200 organisations within the public, private and third sectors since 2009.

  • The organisation has five dedicated people compliance roles. It ensures DBS checks are always up to date and all staff continue to meet the legal requirements of working in the UK. ‘Compliance is the backbone of its operation’, according to the company, and in its dealings with all stakeholders.
  • Charles Hunter Associates sends a comprehensive email to all new workers to explain the relevant requirements and processes relating to HM Revenue & Customs. It conducts audits on a random selection of payslips every 12 weeks to ensure accuracy. Any problems reported will be investigated and resolved within 24 hours.
  • The business is Compliance+ accredited through the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and all staff undergo the Safer Recruitment training to ensure they meet the high standards expected. Charles Hunter Associates completes in-house compliance training with every new internal employee, allowing the organisation to make sure everyone knows what is expected of them. Its dedication to compliance also enables the prevention of unsuitable people working with children and vulnerable adults.

Judges’ comments

“The winner had a very robust approach to educating its own staff, candidates and clients equally. As well as coming up with wider proposals around the regulation (government) of the sector, it also enhanced client audits with their own internal process.”


NHS Professionals

Established in 2001 as a Special Health Authority and then as a limited company in 2008, NHS Professionals put people in places to care within NHS Trusts and the wider healthcare system. It has more than 50 client Trusts and 190,000 healthcare professionals registered with the organisation. 

  • NHS Professionals began a new chapter in 2022, moving its focus from crisis response to strategic growth and delivery of the core services. There was support for marginalised groups too, with Older Workers Week in November 2022 and taking part in the National Apprenticeship Programme. The business has more than 70 apprentices as part of its corporate staff and furthering recruitment as a viable career option for young people.
  • In a challenging year for the country as a whole, NHS Professionals achieved significant results. They included growing to more than 190,000 Bank members (increase of 10,000 plus), filling 6,153,896 shifts and delivering 51,605,690 hours of patient care through its members.
  • NHS Professionals also won four new Managed Service Provider contracts, taking its total number of customers engaged in this way to 56, as well as working with more than 100 other healthcare organisations through a variety of employment models.
  • The campaign ‘Better Balance with the Bank’ promoted the benefits of working on the staffing bank and had the following results: more than 7,700 joined in the period (with 12,000 to join in 2023), in excess of 195,000 have seen social media posts in relation to the initiative and 38% of website visitors navigated to register with the business or book a shift.
  • NHS Professionals began a new chapter in 2022, moving its focus from crisis response to strategic growth and delivery of the core services. There was support for marginalised groups too, with Older Workers Week in November 2022 and taking part in the National Apprenticeship Programme. The business has more than 70 apprentices as part of its corporate staff and furthering recruitment as a viable career option for young people.

Judges’ comments

“In a rigorous judging session, the judges noted a number of serious achievements by NHS Professionals against a backdrop of a challenging year, especially for the NHS and the country as a whole. NHS Professionals was able to deliver: growth of its candidate base to over 190,000 Bank members (an increase of over 10,000); 6,153,896 shifts filled and 51,605,690 hours of patient care delivered by its Bank members; winning four new MSP contracts, as well as working with over 100 other healthcare organisations through a variety of employment models; attracting a more diverse client base beyond acute settings, including integrated care systems and hospices, among others. The judges were seriously impressed with its deliverables in a testing environment.”

Highly Commended – Oscar


First Point Group

First Point Group is a specialist recruitment agency focused on the telecommunications technology and IT network technology space. In 2022, it provided telecoms and emerging technology recruitment solutions to 90 countries, making 1,516 placements, completing 3,310 contract extensions and issuing invoices in 52 countries and 10 different currencies.

  • Gross profit increased by 27% or $2.6m (£2m), turnover increased from $76m to $84m, and First Point Group made placements with 90 new business clients booking some $2.5m of net fee income (a 39% increase on $1.7m year-on-year). The business also had $4.6m of pre-tax profits, and by December 2022, driven by new business, had grown the permanent business from 8% to 30% of net fee income.
  • Its 99 culturally diverse permanent staff, in 11 international offices, speak 20 languages and manage almost 1,000 existing contractors working in countries diversely ranging from China to Libya and Congo to Peru.
  • The company recognises a strong corporate social responsibility culture and is a diverse employer. Some 49% of their staff are from a BAME background, 50% are female and 20 languages are spoken across the business. First Point Group celebrates all religious and cultural festivities with events across the offices, and its weekly newsletter highlights through team member interviews what events, such as Ramadan, personally mean to them.

Judges’ comments

“The winner here really impressed the judges with such a strong submission. Not only could this firm illustrate astounding trading results, driven by real investment in technology, training and marketing – it also impressed via the innovation in building technical expertise in its consultants population; driving impactful DE&I strategies and elevating the reputation of the industry in the eyes of UK Plc through its apprenticeship programmes.”


Autotech Group

Established in 2010, Autotech Recruit aimed to fill a gap in the automotive aftermarket for temporary vehicle technicians and MOT testers. The business works with 80% of Motor Trader’s Top 200 dealers and is said to be one of the automotive aftermarket’s leading one-stop-shop for recruitment and training solutions.

  • Autotech has launched a new division to support the industry called Autotech Academy, which creates a unique route into the industry for qualifying automotive students. The academy works as a conduit between further education colleges and automotive employers by identifying students who are either working towards or have a Level 3 qualification and employing them as interns.
  • Over the last year, more than 200 interns have been placed with 85% securing full-term employment with dealerships including BMW, Volvo, Halfords along with fast-fit centres and the police. This initiative helped young people forge an automotive career, and it has also created another recruitment route for the industry.
  • A paid-for benefit at Autotech, Talentr adds another layer of service for clients. Advertising a permanent position, a company can communicate their brand by incorporating videos and audio. A visual job board is automatically integrated into Autotech Recruit’s API which has a focused, automotive audience of 14,000. Each position is also fed through Autotech Recruit’s social channels and clients have cited an 80% increase in conversion by using Talentr.

Judges’ comment

“To decide our winner, we were looking for an organisation who not only had a strong growth story and demonstrated a focus on looking after their employees but also had a clear and deep connection to their market. We wanted to see evidence of going above and beyond, in terms of supporting the sector through innovative thinking, developing future talent pools as well as working with those in the sector already and using technology to support their objectives. Our winner stood out in all these respects. Autotech Recruit is a well-established organisation which extensively contributes to its sector through involvement with trade bodies, seminars and broader engagement beyond simply providing recruitment services. It has clearly understood the long-term need for well-qualified staff in a market and we were impressed by the company’s development of an Academy and other initiatives to bring new entrants into the sector and upskill those already in it. We also felt that the willingness to bring innovative business models into the automotive market was impressive and congratulate them on a well-deserved win.”


Harper Fox Partners

Harper Fox Search Partners provides senior leadership talent and executive search solutions for the global energy, engineering, manufacturing, transport, technology and utilities sectors. It is a female-owned boutique search firm, offering a bespoke service to their clients with offices in London, Birmingham and Texas in the US.

  • The business partnered with E.ON’s Women in Leadership Series to provide voluntary workshops/keynotes for development, supporting its ambition to increase women in leadership to 50% by 2025. Harper Fox also had a 43% increase in placing diverse talent, compared to the industry average of 11%.
  • It also successfully retained 100% of business and opened a new bigger headquarters in Solihull. That was alongside doubling its amount of employees, doubled turnover and profit from £270k to more than £500k and growing its highest revenue international account by 157%.
  • Wellbeing is a priority for Harper Fox, where it focuses on healthy work/life balance and creating a collaborative, friendly, and inclusive work culture. Employees manage their own schedule where the company provide complete hybrid/flexible working eg. school drop-offs/self-care/working abroad. They also foster a continual development culture with external training and individualised courses. Benefits include (but not limited to) mental health days, healthcare, life insurance and monthly team building days.

Judges’ comments

“From start to finish, Harper Fox’s entry to this category was extremely impressive. From the thoughtful way that it explains its niche and areas of focus to the fact that it is explicit about its values and overall commercial impact as a business, it would be hard not to recognise it as best in class. The D&I Ambassador program, partnerships with EON’s women in leadership, and the 43% placing D&I talent vs the 11% industry average was hugely impressive. The organisation’s commitment to wellness is on par with some of the most thought-leading organisations across other sectors. Double turnover and profit last year and being set to do so this year is hugely impressive and the quote from the testimonial about Harper Fox ‘changing the perception of the industry’ really struck a chord with the judges.”


Highly Commended – Impala Search


Eames Group

Eames Group specialises in the insurance, banking and technology sectors. Their offices in London, Zurich, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York are home to 160 staff. The group has supported the recruitment and talent strategies of companies in the UK, Asia and the US for more than 20 years.

  • Eames’s integrated global back-office function encompasses HR & Operations, Marketing and Finance. It also looks after Contractor Care & Compliance, Talent Acquisition and Learning & Development, and the back office is aligned to group objectives and supports productivity, sales and business continuity.
  • A single individual becomes a subject matter expert for direct contact internally on compliance issues, and the back-office provides expertise on issues affecting both internal employees and the entire recruitment industry such as Equality, Tax (both internal and for contractors), Eligibility to Work, Conduct Regulations, Data Protection, Employment Law and AWR.
  • The back office has updated to digital Right to Work checks via a third party.
  • The back-office function heads report in directly to the board.
  • A 12-month, full review of GDPR processes and policies is underway around the world offices to ensure compliance are monitored and are adaptable to ongoing changes.
  • Judges’ comments

“In a category where there were several leading candidates, the judges felt that Eames clearly showed how the back-office function underpins the foundation of the business and aligns to group objectives. The back office is clearly viewed as a true business partner and worked seamlessly to deliver efficient services, a unified brand and is valued and respected within the business.”


SR2 – Socially Responsible Recruitment

SR2 is a B Corp-certified, community-focused IT recruitment company operating within the IT space. It approaches the business with a focus on its social, corporate and environmental responsibility.

  • The business has committed to making two financial donations a year to underrepresented charities, equalling 5% of its profits. SR2 also encourages volunteering, with each member of the SR2 team committing to at least two days a year of their time to local community projects. In its fifth year of operation, it has made donations of more than £250k and 1,200+ hours of volunteering to under-represented local charities in Bristol and beyond.
  • SR2 donations make a significant impact in its communities with an example being Young Bristol, which received over £50k from the company. Young Bristol used the funds to build an SR2 Media Suite, which enabled youths in the under-privileged areas of Bristol to get access to computers and the internet.

Judges’ comments

“Our winner demonstrated the passion it has for using recruitment to support the communities it serves. SR2 has chosen to make its values a unique differentiator for the business and are clearly committed to demonstrating these values through its actions. The organisation provides a positive example of how sustainability and specifically, social responsibility, dovetails with a recruitment firm’s purpose.”


Connex Education Partnership

Connex Education started supporting schools and early years settings in October 2001. Since then, it has become a major whole-school recruitment and training provider to UK schools. It supports over 2,000 schools and deploys more than 7,000 supply staff nationwide. The Learning and Development division has delivered upskilling and formal qualifications to over 30,000 classroom staff and produced 150 newly qualified teachers to the profession.  

    • The organisation contends that education is vital in helping to tackle climate change and has innovative schemes to inspire pupils and schools about the importance of sustainability in their local communities and on the international stage. 
    • All Connex’s supply staff are engaged on contracts for services. It does not engage workers through umbrellas or other intermediaries, and it aims to pay above National Living Wage and pay parity from day one.
  • Our Classroom Climate is a Connex programme for primary-age pupils, fully supporting the English national curriculum and is the perfect companion programme to the Department for Education’s sustainability & climate change strategy. It is teacher-led and can be delivered through Connex’s trained supply staff to help implement environmental change at the schools where they are assigned.

Judges’ comments 

“The very impressive winner showed how it consistently goes above and beyond for its customers with value-add services such as the creation of a learning environment and product which has delivered very real impact and results in its marketplace across the UK. The case study showed an impressive response to talent shortages in Connex’s market, delivering innovation that had tangible impact on client outcomes.”


Highly Commended: Aligra

“This agency illustrated the importance of partnering with a committed recruitment business – showing how brand, reputation and hiring are all positively affected by the skills of the recruitment industry.”


Keith Rosser, Director of Screening and Group Risk, Reed

Wherever there is high-level action in the UK around digital identity, safe hiring and jobseeking online or background screening, Keith Rosser will be at the heart of it – and he would have very likely initiated the discussion himself.

He is one of the best friends the recruitment and its supplier industries could have – at the same time, he is also an avid supporter of the UK’s jobseeking community, law enforcement, and anyone who could be threatened by unsafe and illegal hiring activity online. For Keith, it’s all about safety in hiring and jobseeking, helping hiring in the UK to become the fastest globally and transforming the UK labour market.

Just a few of his current roles are: board member and treasurer of Europe’s vetting and pre-employment checking industry group, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners; chair of SAFERjobs for over 10 years; honorary fellow at Lancaster University Management; and he further works in board roles with organisations such as Disclosure Scotland, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Better Hiring Institute, the Criminal Records Trade Body – just to name a few.

Most recently, he’s taken on various roles with UK government advising on employment screening, labour market policy and legislation.

On 2 October, he’ll head to Hull as part of a Parliamentary fact-finding team with a focus on modernising employment. And he created the UK’s first All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modernising Employment and Hiring, chaired by Emma Hardy MP and co-chaired by Lord Lucas, a group that is at work now.

Keith is ambitious for our industry and for best practices in hiring and the labour market itself – and he is an exceptional ambassador for all of us across the borders of politics, governance and business itself.

Recruiter is proud to recognise Keith Rosser for his ongoing impact on the recruitment industry and beyond.



Babcock Early Careers Campaign – Babcock International in partnership with ManpowerGroup

Babcock is an international defence company, with its headquarters in London. With dockyards, specialist training facilities, equipment testing centres, research & development facilities and offices across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, it is a significant employer to the UK economy.

  • The Babcock Early Careers campaign officially closed on 31 March 2023. However, the campaign performance to date had better expectations, with a total of 18,390 submitting applications in the applicant tracking system across all programmes, compared with 9,173 applications last year. In addition, Babcock hosted a number of early careers-focused events and attended carefully selected local and national events.
  • Manpower designed and created collateral including website content, employee profiles and a social media campaign. It also created a suite of videos covering 10 topics that were designed to engage and inform the target audience. Some were overviews of Babcock, in which participants described the firm in three words, where employees might see themselves in the future and helping people achieve their goals.
  • Marketing channels included a mix of digital media, online job boards and social media. ‘Socially Recruited’ was important too as this takes a consumer advertising approach to recruitment by turning passive candidates into applicants. The posts were delivered across platforms like Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat. Through its social campaigns it targeted more females in support of the defined campaign target to increase the female engineering apprentice intake to 20%.

Judges’ comments

“The judges liked Babcock’s extremely data-driven and personalised approach in its early careers campaign, which saw a 100% rise in applications compared to last year. We also liked the multi-stream approach. It was one of the few entries in many of the categories that made use of channels such as TikTok and Snapchat – which are key to reaching young talent – alongside more traditional social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn. The approach seemed to have paid off, with high click-through rates from these channels. Using vehicles such as STEM Women also seems to have helped to attract more women into engineering. It also scored points for being one of the few entries to mention mental health and young people. Overall, an impressive entry with quantitative and qualitative information.”