Workforce development links staff learning and development to other human resource and business activities. It includes strategic planning, workforce planning, performance management and career development. Quality frameworks such as Investors in People emphasise the importance of linking staff learning and development to these processes using workforce development strategies.
Explore the links below to learn more.
Why is workforce development important?Open
Workforce development helps to identify current trends and forecast future workforce structures that can help to meet service delivery requirements. This in turn can lead to the development and implementation of skills sets to raise labour productivity and increase social inclusion.
Workforce development overlaps with aspects of organisational redesign, such as the remodelling of services and the redesign of job roles. It is concerned with the development of new skills and capabilities within the workforce in response to national policy and local demographics.
Within the context of productivity and changing structures in health and social care, workforce development will be critical to maintaining a good service and achieving positive outcomes for people.
The policy context for workforce development 1: adultsOpen
A vision for adult social care: Capable communities and active citizens (DH 2010)sets out overarching principles for a community-focused model for adult social care and gives the context for future workforce reforms. The focus for the future social care workforce is of a 'Big Society' where government is smaller, and communities, employers and individuals actively engage in the necessary skills development to deliver sustainable economic success and wellbeing for its local population. This document seeks the publication of a workforce development strategy by Skills for Care (the employer-led authority on training and standards in the sector). It also seeks a leadership strategy from the National Skills Academy for Social Care and a personal assistants' strategy in 2011.
A key feature of the vision is the integration of health and social care at the commissioning and at the operational levels, which will have implications for providers and a major impact on workforce. For policy documents relating to health and adult social care, go to the Department of Health website.
Think local, act personal (2011): this document commits the sector to moving forward with personalisation and community support in adult services.
The policy context for workforce development 2: childrenOpen
In December 2008, the previous government published the 2020 Children and Young People's Workforce Strategy. This sets out a vision where everyone who works with children and young people should be:
- ambitious for every child and young person
- excellent in their practice
- committed to partnership and integrated working
- respected and valued as professionals.
The strategy aimed to ensure that the workforce in children's services had the skills and knowledge to help children and young people develop and succeed across all the outcomes that underpin Every Child Matters: being safe, staying healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic wellbeing. Key documents relating to this strategy may be seen by following the link to Department for Education.The policy of the current government on the CYP (Children & Young People)'s workforce is still emerging and will possibly be published by the end of the year. A number of reviews (for example, the Munro review on safeguarding) will be considered and a strategy in line with the current government's vision will then emerge.
Developments in the national workforce frameworksOpen
The general recognition of the need to plan for and develop the social care workforce, to redesign services and to tackle serious problems of recruitment and retention has created opportunities in workforce development. The continuing growth of the ageing population, personalised support and individual budgets, the practices of reablement, the building of community capacity and promotion of active, healthy living are all informing workforce development.
A number of national initiatives have been concerned with raising standards and regulating the workforce development in social care:
- the Care Standards Act 2000: this overhauled the system of regulating and assessing the quality of social care services in England and Wales and introduced statutory requirements for professional training
- production of national workforce strategies: the Adult Social Care Workforce Strategy 2009 and the 2020 Children and Young People's Workforce Strategy 2008
- the introduction of registration and post-training learning requirements (PTLR) of the General Social Care Council (GSCC) / Care Council for Wales (CCW)
- the introduction of national minimum standards to improve the skills of the social care workforce.
Regulation The national minimum standards constitute the minimum expectations that the state sets for English and Welsh care providers in the services they deliver. The existing standards have been brought in progressively since the passage of the Care Standards Act 2000 and more recently, the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was set up in 2009 to regulate provision in Health and Social Care. It took over the functions of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, as well as those of the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission. OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) inspects and regulates provision in children and young people's education and services.
Qualifications and credit framework National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were seen to reflect best practice and are based on National Occupational Standards produced for social care in England.
NVQs have been incorporated into the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). This replaced the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in January 2011. The QCF is a new way of recognising skills and qualifications. It does this by awarding credit for qualifications and units (small steps of learning). It enables people to gain qualifications at their own pace along flexible routes.
The QCF is designed to make sure that future qualifications allow a flexible, 'mix and match' approach to meeting the different development needs of the workforce. It may be seen as a 'benchmark' for best practice in social care at present.
Improving skills and knowledge in the workforceOpen
It is the responsibility of social care employers to make sure that their staff have the knowledge and competences required to work in the sector.p>
SCIE's Care Skillsbase offers free online tools and resources that help managers in the adult social care sector to identify the strengths and learning needs of their staff in basic numeracy and literacy.It helps managers to:
- identify the communication and numeracy skills that staff need in their jobs
- check the communication and numeracy skills of staff in a safe and friendly way
- identify and manage any risk arising from limited skills
- assist staff to develop their skills on and off the job.
Similarly, the development and implementation of knowledge sets have established key learning outcomes for specific areas of work within adult social care. They are designed to improve consistency in the underpinning knowledge of the adult social care workforce in England. Knowledge sets developed by Skills for Care include: end of life care, infection prevention and control, medication, nutrition and wellbeing, safeguarding vulnerable adults.
CWDC (Children workforce development council) now part of the Department of Education, produced a number of key documents such as The common core of skills & knowledge for the Children & Young People workforce, Common Induction standards, Providing effective supervision.
Social work: The Social work reform board has produced information on overarching professional standards for social workers in England.
Action learning and the learning organisationOpen
Action learning is an improvement tool that empowers staff teams to test out new ways of working. It is a method by which teams can plan, test out, evaluate and change their working practices. It is a model introduced by the NHS Modernisation Agency to encourage staff innovation and involvement in organisational improvement, and has been applied widely in social care and multi-agency settings. It is firmly embedded in practice, starts where people actually are and seeks to foster mutual support and challenge in the context of learning organisation theory.
One model is the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycle, which tests an idea by temporarily trialling a change and assessing its impact. The four stages of the PDSA cycle are:Plan - the change to be tested or implemented Do - carry out the test or change Study - data before and after the change and reflect on what was learned Act - plan the next change cycle or full implement.
A useful model to improve interdisciplinary working and learning is called 'relational action learning'. This model aims to include those issues that arise from the relational aspects of diverse groups learning to work together. Relational action learning also links to the idea that leadership can be undertaken by staff at all levels in organisations. At times of continual change, action learning can help staff address and resolve problems and achieve a greater sense of ownership in their organisation.
The concept of a learning organisation identifies the key characteristics of successful companies and organisations. There are five principal features of a learning organisation (derived from Iles and Sutherland 2001):
- Organisational structure Learning organisations have managerial hierarchies that enhance opportunities for employee, carer and service user involvement in the organisation. All are empowered to make relevant decisions.
- Organisational culture Learning organisations have strong cultures that promote openness, creativity and experimentation among members. They encourage members to acquire, process and share information, nurture innovation and provide the freedom to try new things, to risk failure and to learn from mistakes.
- Information systems Learning organisations require information systems that improve and support practice, transformational change and effective knowledge management.
- Human resource practices People are recognised as the creators and users of organisational learning. Appraisal and reward systems are concerned to measure long-term performance and to promote the acquisition and sharing of new skills and knowledge.
- Leadership Leaders model the openness, risk taking and reflection necessary for learning, and communicate a compelling vision of the learning organisation. They ensure that organisations and work groups have the capacity to learn, change and develop. SCIE's Learning organisations: A self-assessment resource pack can be downloaded from the SCIE website. It allows organisations to assess whether they are a learning organisation that uses evidence-based practice and informed decision making.
Workforce planning 1: what is it?Open
Workforce planning, also called human resource planning, is about addressing two basic questions in terms of the workforce:
- How many staff?
- What sort of staff?
The plan will need to identify the future skills mix needed to deliver quality services and analyse the current workforce. By comparing future requirements and the present situation, the plan will highlight gaps to be bridged through staffing strategies and actions. Social care organisations, regardless of sector and size, are facing challenges such as:
- difficulties attracting and retaining staff
- vacancy rates in key roles
- ongoing skills shortages
- changes in the way services are provided
- statutory qualifications for various job roles
- changing government policy
- the need for greater productivity and efficiency while still maintaining excellence.
National minimum standards for care homes and domiciliary services require employers to show that they are properly planning their workforce and to show CQC inspectors their workforce plans.
A workforce plan can provide realistic staffing projections for budgeting purposes in order to plan for the future. Realistic projections are very helpful when justifying budget requests to funding bodies. It will also improve the way in which human resource plans are linked to business plans and strategies.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to workforce planning, such as:
- Disadvantages: becoming tied up in data, making the process more complicated than it is - increasing bureaucracy, supporting the status quo.
- Advantages: creating a pool of talent, service improvement, service survival, can help to manage uncertainty.
For information on workforce intelligence follow the link to the Centre for Workforce Intelligence. For information on the size and composition of the social care workforce see the National minimum data set- social care.
Workforce planning 2: the processOpen
The starting point for workforce planning is to ensure that up-to-date workforce data is available and accessible. This relies on effective administration and records systems, including computerised systems in larger organisations. In addition, an inclusive planning process needs to be set up that includes consultation with staff and users of the service.
The workforce planning process itself has five stages:
1. Audit of the current workforce - identifying the numbers of staff, job roles, work patterns, grades, etc, as well as workforce characteristics, such as length of service and stability, gender, ethnicity, disability, linguistic profile, skills and qualification profile. The origin of new starters is useful, as well as more comprehensive information on leaver destinations and reasons for leaving.
2. Investigation - looking at the longer-term context of the service and the organisation's strategic and business or service plans. The critical staffing issues can then be identified - staffing issues that will make a major difference to the achievement of the plans.
3. Forecasting - the forecasting process consists of two halves: forecasting the future demand for staff and forecasting the staff team that you will inherit. The process of forecasting future demand is about specifying the numbers of staff and the skills, knowledge or competencies you need within the workforce in order to deliver the services of the future. This is closely linked with the process of service modernisation and workforce development. The other part is forecasting the future staff team that you will inherit. In particular, you will need to identify total numbers (including the flexible workforce such as agency staff) and look at staffing movements such as retirement and natural wastage.
4. Planning - having identified the gaps and surpluses, you are in a position to develop a workforce plan that will help you travel from the present to this future scenario. This is a long-term plan rather than an annual plan as it is not possible to get where you want to go in a short time. You will also need to define action that will support your staffing plans such as allocating more resources for recruiting staff, management training to improve staff development, changes in pay and benefits in order to attract candidates and the development of relationships with schools, colleges and universities.
5. Implementation - the workforce plan will be incorporated into annual plans for teams or workgroups and should also be incorporated into individual plans. When implementing your staffing plans you will need to ensure that you are achieving the right results. These results will need to be measured in terms of efficiency (doing the job right) and effectiveness (doing the right job).
As your strategies, plans and actions are being implemented, follow them up to ensure that things are taking place according to your plans and that anticipated gaps and surpluses are being addressed. Workforce planning is most effective when it is linked to business or service planning, which in turn should be linked to the overarching strategic plans and values of the organisation. Workforce planning, because it provides a framework for shorter-term decisions, should precede the annual planning and budgeting process, which generally starts at the beginning of the calendar year. There are several models or frameworks available to assist with workforce planning and these involve some basic steps.
The Local Government Improvement and Development Agency, the Institute for Employment Studies, InLAWS (Integrated Local Area Workforce Strategy) and the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) have attempted to assist with this by simplifying the process to the following steps:
- Understand what the service is trying to achieve.
- Understand your existing workforce and current issues.
- Look at the workforce supply available to you.
- Decide how you are going to cope with any major surpluses/shortfalls/other issues.
- Feed results into your recruitment, retention and skills development and workforce plans/strategies.
- Take action and review progress and success.
Organisations around the country have embarked on successful workforce planning using the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care and the processes developed by InLAWS. These may be accessed through the Skills for Care website. Similarly, the work of the CWDC.
Workforce planning 3: six steps for providersOpen
The six steps follow a basic plan of:
- assessing the impact of service change
- assessing demand
You can read about the work being done by joining the community of practice at the Local Government Improvement and Development Agency called 'Workforce Planning for Adult Social Care - South West Region' Or see Guidance note on workforce planning for care providers
Key additional resourcesOpen
- The Institute for Employment Studies' website offers information and consultancy on workforce planning and improving people management.
- CWDC (2008) The state of the children's social care workforce, Leeds: CWDC.
- The Centre for Workforce Intelligence (website).
- National minimum data-set -social care (Skills for Care)
- The NHS Information Centre