Header image
Back to Case Studies

Speed and Quality of Supply for a Top 5 University

Company Background

This organisation is a global university that is highly regarded for its teaching, research, and enterprise. It has been at the forefront of UK higher education for almost a century and has become a pioneer and innovator over the decades, pushing academic boundaries and leading social change.

Such is the university’s commitment to excellence; it is recognised as one of the top 5 universities in the People & Planet University League and is ranked as one of the world's top 200 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2024.

Blue Arrow has been supplying temporary and permanent staff to this University for over a decade through The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) framework. This partnership has been beneficial for both parties, ensuring that the university has access to quality staffing solutions while providing job opportunities for individuals in the local community.

The Challenge

The demand for kitchen staff, across the roles of chef, kitchen porter, barista, bar and waiting staff, varies throughout a typical academic year with seasonal events creating peaks in demand for specific skills. The university devised and implemented an innovative, multi-tiered food offering for students offering greater flexibility over their meal choices on a term-by-term basis, covering a range of menus to suit a variety of dietary needs and budgets. This term-based approach to catering management, launched in September 2022, brought a degree of forecasting to food procurement and agency catering staff requirements however, it did still leave the 'no two terms are the same' conundrum.

The multi-tiered food offering was bold and ambitious as chefs and kitchen porters were in high demand and short supply. In August 2022, there were only 6 chef jobseekers per advertised job in the local area. The experience of the chefs required ranged from preparing burger and chips style menus in busy canteens to creating fine-dining menus for the Business School events. Blue Arrow had the juggling act of finding enough suitable candidates to meet the planned demand and yet offer opportunities to retain the best-skilled talent.

Challenge image
Solution image

The Solution

Blue Arrow is the best-known recruitment agency in the local area among the catering and hospitality community. The candidate reach of the local team has been built over decades and so the Blue Arrow team has a long-established database of high-quality, candidates to choose from. Approximately 50% of Blue Arrow candidates work full-time for Blue Arrow across its wide range of clients, often in ad-hoc placements which helps the local team support the peaks of demand for the University whilst retaining the most talented temporary staff on a long-term basis.

As soon as a staff booking arises, the team accesses their talent pool and sources the best candidates quickly, reducing the average time-to-fill from 3 days to 24 hours.  

A total of 240 hours or 30 working days of client admin time has been saved by Blue Arrow taking on the full recruitment and onboarding process. Using Blue Arrow’s online registration portal also accelerates the collation and vetting of important candidate compliance information. 


The Journey

Using Blue Arrow’s Client Portal technology, University hiring managers have been able to rate the quality of the temporary staff they have worked with in their bookings. Those candidates who receive regularly high ratings are set to receive automated offers for future bookings with the hiring managers that they have experience working with. This builds client and candidate familiarity and experience that makes all the difference to how productive and loyal staff can be in filling repeat placements.

This simple rating feature has been so powerful in helping identify patterns of high-quality staff, that the University has turned 12 temporary placements into permanent positions within the last 2 years. One of these roles included a temporary Head Chef who has since been promoted to Executive Chef for Bars and Dining and oversees all catering operations for the University. 

Journey image

The Result

  • Placed 198 catering staff into 1,329 shifts within the last 2 years.
  • 12 temporary workers have been converted to permanent members of staff.
  • Achieved a 95% fulfilment rate  within the last 2 years, 9% higher than the branch’s average fulfilment across other ad hoc client bookings.
  • Reduce the average time-to-fill from 3 days to 24 hours.  
  • Saved the client 240 hours or 30 working days across their recruitment and onboarding activity. 

Need help finding staff?