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Latest News - Some of the problems that have arisen from internet matches
Au pair agencies, our commitment with you
Elizabeth Elder, who is currently the elected chair of the Childcare section of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation in the UK (see below), describes some of the problems that have arisen from internet matches:
''One of the issues we are particularly concerned about currently is the danger both families and au pairs and nannies are exposing themselves to by finding families and childcarers through unregulated internet sites and independent of respectable agencies. Every day there are horror stories ranging from families who find their au pairs promoting themselves on pornographic sites, to the sad stories of au pairs arriving with no papers, references, medical notes or police checks only for the beforehand. These young people are then unable to register with agencies such as ours to find new families because they do not have any of the necessary paperwork, and then they disappear into the illegal black market workplace, exposing themselves to unscrupulous gang leaders, etc. We are really concerned that this is a highly dangerous way of finding work and likewise highly dangerous for families who are trusting their most treasured possessions into the care of unchecked people.''
The primary role of au pair and nanny agencies is to network with partner agencies abroad in order to introduce prospective au pairs/nannies to suitable families. Whilst the matching of families with au pairs is first done on paper, the normal practice is for partner agencies to arrange for families to conduct telephone interviews with any prospective au pairs, so that all parties are aware of the requirements of the position. Agents act as clearinghouses for various application forms and try to satisfy the requests of families with the applicants registered with them. If a Spanish family wants an English speaking, non smoking au pair with driving license, then the local Spanish agent will pass on this request to a counterpart British agent ( for example) who will try to find a suitable candidate. A professional agency will go to great lengths to match applicants with the right family since it is in their business interest to satisfy their clients with an acceptable commodity, you. They go on to provide a back- up service to the candidate for the duration of her stay.
Au pair placement was something that was always done by telephone and correspondence between agencies rather than requiring a face – to – face interview, so it is an activity that now makes extensive use of electronic communication. However some agencies continue to pride themselves on their personal contact with their clients. Since candidates normally apply from their home country, au pair agencies normally depend on their partner agencies abroad for screening and checking. Over years of co-operation, agencies build up a good relationship with their partners and can be confident that the candidates who come via this route are the ones deserving to be placed in the best positions.