Key messages - Care workers: building the future social care workforce

The scenarios outlined a range of possible futures for the care workforce. Some actions were suggested in relation to more than one, and in some cases, all three scenarios. These can be considered robust actions that if taken forward, could prevail in all of the scenarios, and support recruitment and retention of future care workers. These are:

  1. Change the brand and language of social care and support. Terms like ‘social care worker’ may no longer best describe the complexity of the role and may not be attractive enough to new recruits.
  2. Develop and promote portfolio careers. People increasingly have portfolio careers and want to work flexibly. We need to create career opportunities that reflect people’s lifestyles and age (e.g. make working in care an attractive option for those seeking work after bringing up families).
  3. Attract care workers from outside the UK. Overseas recruitment, similar to the NHS recruitment of nurses, was seen as necessary to counteract any fall in EU workers should Brexit lead to this. The newly formed Cavendish Coalition which will promote social care and health concerns within discussions about Britain leaving the EU was welcomed.
  4. Co-ordinate local recruitment across health and care. Joint local recruitment campaigns for health and care staff were seen as a way to maintain economies of scale and attract people into the sector. Local areas could establish co-ordinated recruitment and retention programmes across health, social care and housing within specific places – such as Sustainability and Transformation Plan footprints.
  5. Introduce user-led training for care workers. More and better training was seen as important in all scenarios, especially values-based training. There was a call for people who use services to have a stronger influence over training. A new nationally sponsored, but locally managed training programme, led and delivered by people who use services, could train potential and new recruits about the values of good and person-centred care.

Working in care: projections

  • Demand for skilled care workers is likely to increase, and supply is unlikely to meet future demand.
  • The sector faces challenges in recruiting, training and retaining care workers to support people with increasingly complex needs.
  • Working in social care is not seen as an attractive career path. Salaries and perception of care work, means that care providers struggle to compete with other sectors – such as retail.
  • The number of people over 85 in the UK is predicted to more than double in the next 23 years to over 3.4 million. [1]
  • 18 per cent increase (up to 1.83 million) in adult social care jobs by 2025. [2]
  • 60 per cent of care workers in London were born outside the UK. [3]
  • 80 per cent of new entrants into the social care workforce came from the European Economic Area (EEA) [4]
  • 11 per cent of care workers unlawfully paid less than the National Minimum Wage
  • £4.3 billion funding gap in adult social care by 2020 [6]