Care workers: building the future social care workforce

How the sector could respond to economic and political change to develop the future social care workforce.

It is well recognised that more care workers are needed to meet the care and support needs of the future.

A new paper from the Social Care Institute for Excellence looks at three hypothetical future scenarios, and how the sector might respond to the challenges and opportunities those scenarios offer in relation to recruiting, training and retaining care workers.

Care workers: building the future social care workforce, which was based on discussions with key stakeholders and forms part of a wider research project supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, suggests that the following actions could attract more skilled care workers – whatever economic or political scenario the sector may face:

  • Change the brand and language of care and support: Terms like ‘social care worker’ may no longer best describe the complexity of the role
  • Develop and promote portfolio careers, with more flexibility and opportunities that reflect people’s lifestyles (e.g. returning to work after bringing up families)
  • Attract care workers from outside the UK, especially if Brexit leads to a fall in EU workers. This could be done in partnership with the NHS
  • Co-ordinate local recruitment across health, care and related areas such as housing within specific areas – such as Sustainability and Transformation Plan areas
  • Introduce user-led training which focuses on the values that are important within social care. A new nationally sponsored, but locally managed, training programme, led and delivered by people who use services, may be a useful approach.

Speaking about the issue, SCIE Chief Executive, Tony Hunter said:

Care workers perform one of the most important roles in our society – and the reality is we are going to need a lot more of them in the future. We need to be ready to respond to the opportunities and challenges that major changes – such as a reduction in supply of care workers – may present. Stakeholders, including Skills for Care, who attended a recent SCIE event identified the need to be more flexible about career pathways – so long as we attract the right people, with the right values. We will continue to work with sector leaders to develop and share potential approaches. We are also exploring how we can develop a programme of user-led recruitment and training with partners.

The paper will be accompanied by a series of blogs from care providers who are developing innovative ways to manage workforce challenges.

John Craig, Chief Executive of Care City, provides the first blog. Based in East London, Care City aims to attract local people into the care sector

Notes to editors

Care workers: building the future social care workforce considers three hypothetical future scenarios with different political, economic, social and technological changes.

Scenario 1: A sunny outlook – but is social care in the shade? The UK remains within the European Economic Area (EEA), but restrictions are made on unqualified EEA migrants. The NHS receives more funding to retain clinicians. Cross-sector investment makes care homes more sustainable and generates more attractive salaries and careers.

Scenario 2: Weathering the storm The UK leave the EEA and a failing economy narrows employment choices. Migration falls reducing the supply of labour. The pace of health and care integration is variable. Apprenticeships and workplace qualifications are extended.

Scenario 3: A change in the weather Following a second referendum, the UK remains in the EU. Spending on local government, and care sector training and education increases. Zero-hours contracts are practically outlawed and estates tax helps to partly fund the cost of care. A poor economy slows migration.

Care workers: building the future social care workforce is the latest in the new Future of Care series of papers from SCIE. The series aims to stimulate discussion within the sector about the future of care and support, based on analysis of developing evidence and projections for the future.

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