1 in 3 jobseekers are now considering a career in Social Care. How can the sector benefit in this historic shift?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

After a year that has truly highlighted the value of carers, 1 in 3 jobseekers are considering a career within the sector. The newly released guide, by The Work Foundation and Totaljobs, ‘Social Care: A Guide To Attracting and Retaining a Thriving Workforce’ explores how the Social Care sector can leverage historic shifts in public opinion to find the care talent it needs now and in the future.

The guide’s aim is to tackle workforce challenges in adult social care through research with care workers and engagement with providers and expert stakeholders.

Key findings

  • More than half (53%) of jobseekers from outside the sector now have a more positive view of social care since the onset of the pandemic
  • A third (31%) of jobseekers are considering a career in care.
  • Younger candidates are most likely to be planning to pursue careers in care, with one in four (25%) 16–25-year-olds expecting to pursue a career in the sector in the near future.
  • Analysis of Totaljobs candidates found that the number of people applying for social care roles has increased by 39% between 2019 and 2021, with 56% of new starters in care joining from other sectors.

Long standing challenges

Skills for Care estimate in their latest report: The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England that the number of adult social care jobs will need to increase by 32% (520,000 jobs) to around 2.17 million jobs (from 1.52 million today) by 2035. This is to meet the needs of the UK population, which has a growing demographic of adults living to 85 and over, as well as an increasing number of people with learning disabilities which require service provision, meaning that employers will need to increase their workforces with skilled care workers.

The introduction of the new immigration system will end access to a talent pool that has been essential for the sector over a number of years. Previous Work Foundation research found that, if the new immigration system had been in place for the three years prior to December 2020, up to 11,000 workers from the European Union who arrived in the UK and worked in health and social care would likely not have met the criteria needed for entry.  One care provider interviewed for this guide estimated 10% of their live in carers were from the EU going up to 20-30% in different parts of the UK.  

Retention of staff continues to prove difficult. Over a third (37%) of care workers that Totaljobs surveyed are looking for a new role in the sector, with the main drivers being: pay (52%), not feeling valued (45%) and a lack of career progression opportunities (31%).

Negative perceptions of Care Work still exist, however the pandemic has shifted some of these perceptions towards work in care and attitudes are improving, particularly among younger candidates, and providers and sector bodies should seize this opportunity to invest in attracting this demographic to the sector.

The ‘Social Care: A Guide To Attracting and Retaining a Thriving Workforce’ guide aims to support care providers navigating these challenges, highlighting key insights from their research and offering recommendations for employers and government to create long-term solutions for a thriving workforce.

Recommendations from the guide

Care providers should:

  • Create opportunities for young people to build an understanding of care work. These could include taster days and work placements, developed through direct engagement with colleges and schools.
  • Adopt a values-based approach to recruiting care workers, for example through using scenario-based questions, or group assessment days.
  • Consult with their workforce to understand the rewards and benefits they would value most, and use this insight to develop a benefits package that aligns with staff preferences.
  • Social care sector bodies and regulators should coordinate with central Government and national governments to create a sector-wide, long-term strategy for workforce development including creating a Continuing Professional Development Framework well supported by funding.

In addition, they call on the Government to:

Deliver on its commitment to produce a long-term strategy for funding and delivering adult social care into the future.

You can read the full guide here.