This page explains our policy position on recruiting more men and younger people into social care roles - and sets out what we want to see, the current situation and solutions.
What do we want to see?
We want adult social care to be seen as a rewarding career by all. People who identify as men are under-represented, making up only 18% of the workforce.
Recruiting and retaining more people who identify as men will help with capacity in social care, and we'll have a more diverse range of people bringing new ideas and better reflecting the diversity of the people they support. This goes hand in hand with employers and people who draw on care seeing the value that men can bring to care.
We want adult social care to be seen as a rewarding career by all ages. This will help with capacity in social care and we'll have a more diverse range of people replenishing an ageing workforce, bringing new ideas and better reflecting the diversity of the people they support.
The current situation
There are ingrained stereotypes and deeply entrenched perceptions of social care as ‘women’s work’, meaning that only 18% of the people working in adult social care identify as men – and even fewer among care workers (16%), senior care workers (15%), nurses (13%) and occupational therapists (11%).
People who draw on care often prefer or expect female care workers. There is evidence of men being disproportionately likely to drop out of recruitment processes.
Young people are less likely to see long-term career opportunities in social care.
There is a disproportionately low number of under-25s working in social care – 12% of the economically active population is under 25, but only 8% of the social care workforce. We have a high turnover of younger people in social care – with 53% of under-20s and 43% of under-30s leaving care jobs.
Some employers have told us they’re less keen on employing younger people for reasons including a perceived lack of experience and maturity, and insurance issues. There's also a lot of competition for young people from many other sectors, including retail, hospitality and the NHS.
We should talk positively about social care
Everyone who has a role in recruiting people into social care needs to consider how we talk about social care so that it appeals to different demographics. This means not using jargon, talking about the benefits of social care to individuals and the potential career opportunities as well as the flexible nature of the roles which evidence suggests is more important than salary for many young people.
Nationally, we should have a sustained national recruitment campaign - with strands tailored for and targeted at men, support for employers to capitalise on the campaign and clear metrics for measuring success. The Menn I Helse (Men in Health) programme in Norway has successfully used male-focused marketing to attract men into social care.
We should have targeted approaches for different demographics
Employers can take a more targeted approach to different demographics such as men and younger people by explicitly asking for men or younger people to apply for roles - and by using values-based recruitment to help with recruitment and retention of people whose values are a good fit for care providers.
We should develop a rolling programme at a national level that can be delivered locally, targeting recruitment activities, careers advice, work experience and mentoring programmes at men.
At a system and local level, system leaders should be building more links with further education colleges and other places where young people are thinking about entering the world of work.
We need role models for different demographics
At a national and local system level we should use role models and advocates of different genders and ages who are working in social care and who develop their profile.