1.48 million people currently work in the social care sector, but the number of vacancies is set to increase, due to the effects of the ageing population and Brexit may have. Skills for Care have predicted that every single year, the sector will need an additional 130,000 workers, increasing to 650,000 by 2035.
These issues are nothing new for the sector. In fact, we’ve been talking about them for years. However, if we want to prepare for the future, then we need to act now, and we can do this in two ways:
- Encourage people to start a career in care
- Retain our current workforce
How to encourage people to start a career in care
The average age of a worker in the care sector is 43, yet over a fifth are over the age of 55. Interestingly, the same research from Skills for Care found that the average age of a person entering the sector is 35.
While the government has launched the Everyday is Different campaign, to encourage people to start a career in care; we shouldn’t rely on this alone.
As a sector, there are things we can do to attract and retain a younger workforce, to ensure our ageing population is properly cared for in years to come.
Inspire school leavers
There’s no denying the fact that there is a huge stigma surrounding our sector, with misconceptions about long hours and poor pay.
Until we start educating people about what careers in care represent, we can’t expect this stigma to go away. That’s why we need to engage with students and school leavers.
It would be beneficial to connect with secondary schools in your area, in order to see if there are opportunities for you to talk to students, or host a training session about career pathways in care. Use this as an opportunity to explain how rewarding a career in care can be, and highlight the many reasons why people choose to enter the sector – for example, flexible hours, and a range of career opportunities without the need for a degree.
If possible, speak to the schools’ career advisors too, and drop off any relevant materials, such as brochures or flyers that might help to build awareness. If they’re equipped with the information, then it makes it easier for them to advise students about the possibility of starting a career in social care.
Highlight the variety of roles available
Just over 50% of young people go to university. That means the remaining 50% are looking for work, or some other form of training.
Perhaps one of the reasons why not many young people are starting a career in social care, is because they don’t realise the vast number of opportunities available to them. It’s your job to show them all the different career paths they can take. From domiciliary to residential, activity workers to supervisors, team leaders and managers, highlight the various routes they can take.
Only then, can they start viewing this as a viable career, and not just a stopgap or last resort.
How to retain our current workforce
Skills for Care estimates that the sector’s turnover rate is 27.8%, which equates to 350,000 employees leaving each year.
Turnover rates amongst those under the age of 20 are the highest, ranging between 34-37%, with employees choosing to leave soon after they start. This further suggests that they’re viewing jobs within the care sector as a stopgap, as opposed to a viable, long-term career choice, so it’s imperative we start to change the way they think.
Offer career progression and development opportunities
If your company doesn’t already, then ensure you have a clear structure in place for personal development. All staff should have regular 121s and PDPs, so their managers know exactly what their visions are for the future.
While many employees will be happy with their current job, there will be lots who either want to progress up the career ladder, or take a sidestep into a related position. Regardless, employees should be given the opportunity to achieve their long-term career goals – otherwise, we really can’t blame them if they choose to look for a job elsewhere.
You should also highlight the training and qualifications that are available to your staff, to progress on career paths in care. While the Care Certificate is mandatory, only 46% of staff have a relevant qualification at level two or higher, suggesting that not everyone is aware of the training available to them.
87,000 people began a social care apprenticeship in 2015/16, which was a 20% increase compared to two years earlier.
80% of companies who invested in apprentices reported an increase in staff retention, and 92% saw an increase in a more satisfied and motivated workforce; so promoting qualifications benefits both your employees and your business.
Demonstrate your commitment to employee wellbeing
Working in the care sector is extremely rewarding, but it can also be hard work – as anyone who has ever worked in the sector will know.
If you want to retain your staff in the long term, then you need to demonstrate that you genuinely care about their wellbeing, and are committed to ensuring they are happy at work.
One way you can do this is by promoting a good work/life balance; something that 61% of workers don’t believe they have. Speak to your employees, and encourage them to engage in conversations. Help them understand that there is a safe space and a trusted person for them to talk if they need to.
If any of your staff are still on zero-hour contracts, then look to switch them to a full or part-time contract. 24% – approximately 325,000 – care sector staff are currently on zero-hour contracts, which doesn’t provide them with a sense of job security, which could be detrimental to their wellbeing.
Not many young people are considering starting a career in social care, and turnover rates are high. If we want to successfully care for our ageing population, we need to reverse both of these factors.
If you’d like to find out how to attract and retain members of staff who are looking for careers in care, get in touch with us. Alternatively, for the latest news in the care sector, head on over to our blog.
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