9 July 2020

Over 60 attendees joined us on Tuesday 7th July for an informative and eye-opening insight into the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s (GLAA) role and their aim in raising awareness of modern slavery issues and labour exploitation in the UK.

The online event was organised in response to the new Education Inspection Framework’s (EIF) concerns with learners’ progression into employment.

We were joined firstly by Frank Hanson, Head of Prevention and Partnerships at the GLAA, for an introduction to the role of the GLAA as Nottingham-based law enforcement and compliance agency protecting vulnerable and exploited workers. Frank highlighted some of the key indicators of modern slavery and labour abuse, stating that “labour exploitation can take many forms.”

Speaking about a recent social media campaign that the GLAA ran, aimed at vulnerable workers who were about to start their journey to the UK, Frank said, “The role of prevention is trying to identify the right time to provide the right advice to the right people in order to make sure that they have the knowledge and understanding of what to expect before they come to the UK to work.”

Frank noted, however, that the majority of cases of labour exploitation involve UK residents. He stressed the importance of working with local communities and voluntary groups to identify the ‘hot spot areas’ where the GLAA can make the most impact on the community. 

We were then joined by Kaley Boothby, Advanced Practitioner from Boston College, who shed some light on the impact that the partnership with the GLAA had on the College’s staff, students and surrounding community.

“We wanted to create a supportive environment for staff, to develop their confidence to deliver knowledge to learners on this topic, but also to raise awareness with learners about their working rights,” Kaley explained.

As part of the programme of events that Boston College held to engage learners and local employers, the independent public body ACAS and charity The Salvation Army ran a range of interactive workshops with the students.

Speaking about this, Kaley said, “It gave learners the confidence to ask questions, and how to ask about informal advice on how to manage tricky situations in the workplace. These sessions encouraged open and honest discussions between different groups of learners from different curriculum areas.”

The outcomes of the pilot partnership between Boston College and the GLAA showed that they were clearly successful in achieving the aims that were set out, and the impact this project had on the college and the community was palpable.

When the session floor was opened up for questions, it was clear that there were many attendees who would be keen for their workplace to follow in the footsteps of Boston College.

Frank reiterated the importance of building these future partnerships within the sector: “For the next steps with how we want to take this project forward, we want to emphasise how passionate we are with building relationships with the post-16 education sector, further education colleges, work-based training providers and employers who are running apprenticeships schemes.”

“The more that we can link in with colleges who are preparing students for work in ‘high risk’ sectors makes it even more of an urgency to make sure that they go out with that updated knowledge and awareness. After all, we feel that they are the work force of tomorrow.”

If you have concerns about labour exploitation, speak to the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 432 0804 or email intelligence@glaa.gsi.gov.uk.