Short term Bite and Long term Challenges
Anyone who thinks social assistance is unskilled work should try working in the sector for even a day. These are skilled, difficult and crucial jobs that we have too long underestimated as a society. In addition, millions of people provide unpaid care to friends and relatives.
Governments have been promising a solution for social care for decades. Demand is increasing as our population ages, but we are not investing enough.
This leaves people worried about the care they will receive and homeowners worry about having to sell their homes. It also means a sector characterized by high staff turnover, vacancy rates and low wages.
But there is also a short-term crisis. Like many sectors, many social sector employers find it difficult to recruit, leaving vacancy rates high.
The possibility of increasing wages is limited when there is a relatively fixed amount of investment from the government. And the change in migration rules after Brexit, as well as the decline in net migration during the pandemic, place limits on the sources of labor that have fulfilled many roles in at least the past few decades.
How to deal with this short-term crisis and this long-term challenge?
Thought In regards to How? ‘Or’ What Social Care should to be Structure
We also need to think about how care is structured, so that investment in the workforce provides the high quality care people deserve. Whether it is some kind of national care service to mirror the national health service or some other approach, the key point is to think about how care is ordered, the rights of people to different types of care and manpower needs (number of workers, skill levels, training and modalities) for high quality care. All of these are prerequisites for encouraging social assistance recruitment and supporting training and progression. But there is more we need to do too.
To pay, Use and Skills
The long-term workforce challenge will not be resolved until we find a better comprehensive solution for social services. If we want caregivers to receive a living wage (for the benefit of workers and to boost recruitment), then we will have to invest more globally.
The government’s current plans take a step forward, but do not go far enough. We need a common, long-term vision of the workforce needs.
How many people will we need, in what social roles, in what regions of the country?
What skills will they need?
How could that change in the decades to come?
Will there be a labor shortage due to the different career options people have, the natural change in the workforce as people retire, and changes in the workforce? migration?
You can’t accurately predict or plan for these things centrally, but you can have a clear big picture and strategy.
Several Itineraries in Social Care
So we need more than one path to employment in social services. There are 3.2 million unemployed people who want jobs, and even during the spring 2020 lockdown, some 1.2 million people have started new jobs. Not everyone will suit or want a job in social service. But many can and we must find ways to increase the possibilities with them, generate interest and provide clear pathways to the sector.
To expand the number of people considering careers in social services, we absolutely need to raise awareness of career options. We also need to focus on concrete actions at the local level: social service employers, colleges, training providers and Jobcentre Plus are working together.
Some people will be interested in entering social services, but need support to acquire the necessary skills. It means thinking more about how to work with employers to design the training people need. Could we build on successful models from other industries like WorkAdvance in the US, as well as emerging models like boot camps (not proven) and industry work academies (proven). It also means examining how we can stimulate learning so that it offers a quality route to work in social services and progression.
For all of these routes, we also need to think about maintenance or other financial support for people who want to move to other careers on welfare. This is a larger need that we must reflect on in the context of a longer working life and a rapidly changing economy – our skills funding is not adapted to this new reality.
The search for a long-term solution for social assistance is a continuous and long-term search. But the imperative for everyone to work together to tackle the labor shortage is real. We need policy change, but there are also practical actions that can make a real difference.
The government needs to develop a long-term workforce plan for adult social services covering wages, employment conditions, skill needs and how recruitment will be met now and in the future.
The government should work with stakeholders in the adult social protection sector and the education, skills and employability sectors after 16 years to ensure that social protection is a positive career choice with a greater investment to ensure fair remuneration and conditions, training and development opportunities.
The government must develop new and innovative ways for people to move into and advance in social protection roles, drawing on best practices from around the world.
Stephen Evans, Institute of Learning and Work
The Campaign for Apprenticeship report, Reforming social protection for adults: integrating finance, pay, employment and skills policies in England, is based on seventeen contributions from experts in the adult social assistance sector and the education, skills and employability sectors after 16 years.
Three themes are common to most of the authors’ contributions: the scale of the adult social care sector in England, the complexity of policymaking for the sector, and the need for greater integration of funding, compensation, employment and skills.
Part 1: The Adult Social Care Sector
Part two: Strategic reforms of social protection for adults
- Paul Nowak, TUC: A National Forum on Care to Fix Social Care
- Stephen Evans, Learning and Work Institute: A Long Term Pay, Employment and Skills Plan for Adult Social Care
Part Three: Recruitment under a Competency-Based Immigration Policy
- Becci Newton, Institute for Employment Studies: Improving Pay and Job Quality in Adult Social Services
- Karolina Gerlich, The Care Workers’ Charity: Encouraging Youth and Adults to Become Adult Care Workers
- Chris Goulden, Youth Futures Foundation: A Career In Adult Social Services: A Youth Perspective
- Andrew Morton, ERSA: Targeting active labor market policies to fill vacant positions in adult social services
Part Four: The Delivery and Design of Social Care Qualifications
- John Widdowson, Former Head of FE College: Integrating Emotional Support for Learners into Health and Social Services Classes
- Naomi Dixon, Education and Training Foundation: Supporting EF Practitioners After 16 Years of Teaching Social Care
Part Five: The role of education and skills policies after 16 years
- Elena Wilson, The Edge Foundation: Assessing Level 3 BTECs for 16-18 year olds studying health and social services
- Julian Gravatt, AoC: What post-16 EF can and cannot do to tackle the crisis in adult social services
- Jane Hickie, AELP: Reforming the Financing and Delivery of Learning for Adult Social Services
- Gemma Gathercole, CWLEP: Adult Skills, Adult Social Care and Devo-Deals
Part Six: Adult Learning and Adult Social Services
- Susan Pember, HOLEX: The Wider Benefits of Adult Learning for Adult Social Services
- Simon Parkinson, WEA: Adult learning for adults in social settings
- Campaign for apprenticeships: reform proposals in England
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