By Andy Tilden, Skills for Care
There are good thought pieces coming out of #socialcarefutures about the sort of social care system we will require now and in the future.
Much of the focus has rightly been directed at how social care could be funded, organised, how current behaviours can be challenged and crucially how the system enables people to live the life they want. Continuing to do (or in many cases failing or struggling to do) more of the same does not appear to be an option.
Crucially, we also have to think differently and more dynamically about the sort of workforce we require. Social care will require people, people to provide care, to support, to advocate, to look after, to assist, to train, to manage, to lead and to commission. No matter what social care looks like in the future it will still require a workforce. Irrespective of the system that we eventually end up with many people will still require care and support in their own home and if that’s not possible or desirable then in some form of other accommodation.
There are currently 1.58 million social care jobs in England in 2016. With current vacancy rates at approximately 90,000. Skills for Care estimates that if the adult social care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population then the number of adult social care jobs will increase by 31% (500,000 jobs) to around 2 million jobs by 2030.
In response to the projected growth of social care as well as the long standing vacancy rates the obvious question to ask is where will this workforce come from and what more can ‘social care’ do to attract people with the right values and behaviours to work in social care?
Of course there are employers who through their own efforts are offering ‘glimpses of the future’ in the methods they use to get workers with the right values, how they keep workers and also how they offer support with appropriate learning and development. Many of these examples can be found on the Skills for Care website https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Getting-involved/Accolades-awards/Accolades-awards.aspx
Despite the best efforts of many the competition for workers is fierce and in order to compete effectively with other sectors many would argue that a more combined effort is required across the breadth of social care to elevate the status of social care.
I am not sure there will be too much argument about the need to raise the status, value, recognition and (for some) the quality of the adult social care workforce, as well as developing a clear career framework that would mean that social care becomes a sector of choice to work in for the many and not just the few. Good social care, undertaken well is first and foremost about enabling people to live the lives they want and as an inevitable consequence it is also about giving those workers that want it a fantastic, enriching career that is of real worth.
We have an opportunity – ‘Facing the facts, shaping the future’, the Department for Health and Social Care and Skills for Care consultation on the strategy for adult social care workforce closed on the 9th April. The consultation is currently being analysed and the results will inform how the current great work that takes place in social care is further recognised, supported and rewarded and how social care as a sector can achieve parity with other sectors as we seek to attract workers for the future.
Andy Tilden is Director of Sector Development – Skills L & M and EE – at Skills for Care