Growing concern about shortfall in social care workforce

A new report from Skills for Care has revealed the significant impact the pandemic has had on both the short and long-term challenges faced by the workforce.

The annual ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report found that, on average, 6.8 per cent of roles in adult social care were vacant in 2020/21, which is equivalent to 105,000 vacancies being advertised on an average day. The vacancy rate in adult social care has been persistently high at above six per cent for the previous six years.

Since May 2021, vacancy rates have steadily risen as the wider economy has opened back up. As of August 2021, vacancy rates are now back above their pre-pandemic levels. Since the same month there has been a decrease in jobs (filled posts) of around -1.8 per cent. This is the first time on record that the number of jobs (filled posts) has fallen. At the same time vacancy rates are increasing.

Additionally, turnover rates across the sector remain high, at 28.5 per cent in 2020/21.

The report shows social care is a growing market currently contributing £50.3 billion to the English economy. The efforts of the 1.54 million people who worked tirelessly throughout lockdown need to be recognised and properly rewarded.

Skills for Care is aware that workforce is a priority for the upcoming white paper and is committed to working with the government and stakeholders across the sector to make a shared vision for a workforce which enables people to live the lives they want, where they want.

Oonagh Smyth, Skills for Care CEO, said: “This report is a stark reminder that our recruitment challenges continue, and to help tackle that we need to properly reward and value care workers for their high skill levels and dedication. We know that this is a priority for the new Government White Paper expected on adult social care this year and look forward to seeing the measures contained.

“Social care is fundamental infrastructure in our communities, it allows people in our families, our friends and people in our communities to be supported to live the lives they choose. And the workforce in social care are the people that provide that support every day, in every single community.

“The workforce is so important but we know from speaking to employers that the pandemic has had a huge impact on people working in social care. The rich data from this authoritative annual report confirms this pressure, as well as showing us longer term trends in adult social care.

“We’re grateful to all the employers who continued to submit their data to ASC-WDS in challenging times, and this report is just one way we will use it to make sure we can create a sustainable workforce as we enter a period of reform for adult social care.”

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