State of the adult social care workforce

September 27, 2017

The adult social care sector contributed an estimated £41.8bn to the English economy, reveals Skills for Care's The state of the adult social care sector and workforce report.

Skills for Care produced this estimate of the contribution made, in 2016/17, by the adult social care sector to the English economy, by using pay, hours and total jobs data from its National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) in conjunction with data on private sector profits, indirect effects like the sector’s extensive supply chain and induced effects, including money spent by people working in adult social care.

The report also reveals that the workforce continued to grow. The number of adult social care jobs was estimated to have increased by around 1.5% (20,000) between 2015 and 2016 with the number of adult social care jobs in England as at 2016, estimated to be 1.58 million and the number of people working in adult social care estimated to be 1.45 million.

The report, published annually, provides high-quality data and analysis for decision-makers on key areas, like recruitment and retention, workforce demographics, pay, qualifications and training, personal assistants who work for people who have their own budgets and future forecasts for the size and structure of the workforce.

Other key findings include:

  • Around a quarter of the workforce (24%) were on a zero-hours contract (325,000 jobs). This percentage has remained relatively stable between 2012/13 and 2016/17, going down by two percentage points over this period.
  • Skills for Care estimates that the staff turnover rate of directly employed staff working in the adult social care sector was 27.8%. This was approximately 345,000 leavers per year, while almost three-quarters of all workers remained in their roles. Despite high turnover overall, approximately a quarter (26%) of employers have a turnover rate of less than 10%.
  • Approximately two-thirds of new starters were recruited from within the adult social care sector, therefore the sector retains their skills and experience.
  • Adult social care has an experienced 'core' of workers. Workers had, on average, eight years of experience in the sector and around 70% of the workforce had been working in the sector for at least three years.
  • Skills for Care estimates that 6.6% of the roles in adult social care are vacant, this gives an average of approximately 90,000 vacancies at any one time.
  • The average age of a worker was 43 years old and a fifth (305,000 jobs) were aged over 55.
  • The majority (83%) of the adult social care workforce were British, 7% (95,000 jobs) had an EU nationality and 9% (125,000 jobs) a non-EU nationality.
  • The proportion of the adult social care workforce with a British nationality has been consistent over the past five years (from 2012/13 to 2016/17), rising one percentage point over the period. The proportion of EU (non-British) workers has risen two percentage points and non-EU workers has fallen four percentage points over the period. The result of the EU referendum appears, so far, to have had little effect on these trends with the number of EU nationals continuing to increase and the number of non-EU nationals decreasing.
  • Since the introduction of the mandatory National Living Wage on 1st April 2016, care workers pay in the independent sector has increased at a higher rate than previous years. Pay increased by 28p (3.8%) between 2015/16 and 2016/17. Before the introduction of the NLW, the pay had increased by an average of 12p per year between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

Skills for Care's Chief Executive, Sharon Allen said, 'There is no doubt that adult social care faces some really challenging times ahead and if we are to meet them head on then we need to make informed decisions based on the sort of quality data and analysis this detailed report provides.

'I’m incredibly grateful to all the employers who share their data with us through our National Minimum Data Set for Social Care which informs this report. They can be assured that their data is having a direct impact on how decisions are being made that impact on their organisations and the 1.45 million workers who work so hard offering care and support to over 1.4 million people in our communities.'


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