The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2017

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It’s crucial that the adult social care sector has clear and robust workforce intelligence, this will help reinforce its position as a major part of the economy. Good quality information about the workforce is vital to help improve the planning and quality of social care services, which will improve outcomes for people who use these services, both now and in the future.

The ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2017’ report produced by Skills for Care provides information about the sector including:

  • its size and shape
  • employment information
  • recruitment and retention issues
  • workforce demographics
  • pay
  • qualification rates
  • future workforce forecasts.

This year marks 10 years since the launch of NMDS-SC online. That's 10 years of workforce intelligence helping shape and inform the sector.



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  • The number of adult social care jobs in England as at 2016 was estimated at 1.58 million.
  • The number of adult social care jobs was estimated to have increased by around 1.5% (20,000 jobs) between 2015 and 2016.
  • Since 2009 the number of adult social care jobs has increased by 19% (255,000 jobs).
  • The rate of increase for adult social care jobs has slowed, between 2014 and 2016 there was an increase of 30,000 jobs compared to increases of 70,000 between 2012 and 2014 and 90,000 between 2010 and 2012.
  • The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs was estimated at 1.11 million.
  • The number of people working in adult social care was estimated at 1.45 million.
  •  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.
  • We estimate 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%.
  • 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.
  • Approximately two thirds were recruited from within the adult social care sector, therefore the sector retains their skills and experience.
  • We estimate 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 years old.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Just under half the workforce (48%) held a relevant social care qualification, of workers without a relevant social care qualification, 79% had completed an induction, 54% had engaged with the Care Certificate, 82% had completed training relevant to their role and 40% had more than five years of experience in the adult social care sector.
  • Since the introduction of the mandatory National Living Wage on April 1 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 to the introduction of the NLW the pay had increased by an average of 12p per year between 2011/12 and 2015/16

Our analysis team provide an external analysis service and can produce a range of in-depth reports depending on your specific requirements. Skills for Care’s highly experienced analysts can work with you to identify your requirements, and design and deliver bespoke workforce intelligence reports. We use NMDS-SC data to provide essential data in the form of reports or within a broader consultancy package to inform business decision making.

Our data services can be used when you need:

  • evidence to help you make an important decision or develop a strategy
  • information/analysis and a report that’s more in-depth and tailored to your needs
  • trend information or help looking ahead with forecasts
  • information for a bid
  • benchmarking social care organisations/the workforce
  • contributions to health and social care workforce integration projects.

All available at the geographical level most relevant to your needs.

For more information about these services please email 

To receive a quarterly email which contains the latest published information and workforce intelligence reports, simply register with us and select "workforce intelligence" under areas of interest.



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