New report on social care workforce

May 25, 2021

A report from The Work Foundation and Totaljobs – Social care: a guide to attracting and retaining a thriving workforce – shows how an appreciation for carers, during the pandemic, could help the Government and care providers improve the historic skills and labour shortage in the sector.

The research involved a survey of 1,004 adult social care workers among Totaljobs’ candidate databases. A wider candidate survey was delivered to 3,875 individuals in Totaljobs’ candidate pool, who do not work in adult social care. Both surveys ran between February 25, 2021 – March 25, 2021.

Interviews were undertaken with a range of policy stakeholders from across the sector and adult social care providers. The research also drew on analysis of Totaljobs’ candidate database, assessing the key terms within jobs adverts advertised by Totaljobs during the first week of each quarter for 2019, 2020 and 2021. This analysis was conducted on job adverts across five of the largest companies in the sector: HC-One, Four Seasons Health Care, Barchester, Care UK and Bupa.

Key findings

  • A third (31%) of job seekers 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.
  • With an estimated workforce of 1.52 million, the adult social care sector plays a significant role in the UK labour market. Over the years ahead it will need to rapidly expand further to meet growing demand.
  • For those currently looking to leave the sector, half (51%) flag that higher pay is a key motivation, followed by not feeling valued by their current employer (50%), that they’re looking for a less stressful environment (46%) and lack progression routes in their current role (42%).
  • Totaljobs candidate data suggests that those directly providing care are likely to stay within an organisation for longer than those in non-caring roles, potentially driven by the first-hand experience of the difference their work makes. The average candidate directly providing care spent approximately eight years at their organisation, compared to an average tenure of around six and a half years for those not in care providing roles in the same organisation.

The guide aims to support care providers navigating these challenges, highlighting key insights from the research and offering recommendations for employers and the Government to create long-term solutions for the workforce.

The guide set out the following recommendations for care providers:

  • 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, the report advised the Government to:

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

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs, said, ‘Our research shows the undeniable pride that social carers have for their work, something that they want to see tangibly reflected by their employers. How a social care provider can make their staff feel valued will be unique to their workforce, whether it’s clearer progression opportunities, stronger relationships between carers and managers, or broader wellbeing support.  Now is an opportunity to engage with staff and foster a people-first working culture where every social carer can thrive.’

Ben Harrison, Director at The Work Foundation, said, ‘This new Work Foundation and Totaljobs research highlights the window of opportunity we now have to tackle these issues, as more people than ever – including higher numbers of young people – are looking at social care as a viable career option.

‘We must therefore seize this moment to strengthen and support the sector. The Government made a welcome commitment in its 2019 manifesto to deliver long-term reform for social care. As it does so in the months to come, this has to involve a sustainable funding programme, alongside a comprehensive workforce strategy that engages directly with providers and workers alike, and puts issues like pay, progression and workforce wellbeing at its heart.’

Read the report in full.

In the latest issue of CMM Magazine, Annette Baines and Neil Eastwood of Care Friends tell us more about the extraordinary power of values and offer practical advice on how to ensure your recruited members of staff develop into loyal members of the team.


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