Skills for Care

We work to ensure we have the right number of people, with the right values and behaviours, working in social care now and in the future. 

We do this by using our data and insight to identify the issues and help policymakers to understand them, developing best practice solutions and getting them out to the sector through our networks, and promoting careers in social care. 


Why is this important?   

To meet the increasing needs of a growing, ageing population, with rising levels of morbidities and care needs at all ages (All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity, 2020; Idriss et al, 2020), the workforce needs to grow – we estimate 27% (480,000 extra jobs) by 2035 (source: Skills for Care workforce estimates 2021-22).  

There's also a significant replacement demand, with over a quarter of the workforce aged over 55 (Skills for Care, 2022). With persistently high levels of staff turnover (29%; 400,000 leavers in 2021-22) and vacancy rates (10.7%; 165,000 vacancies), employers struggle to meet present demand, let alone future demand.  

Our State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England 2022 report highlighted that the number of vacant posts in adult social care had increased by 52% in one year - the highest rate on record. 


Profile and awareness 

We want social care to be better understood, more valued and seen as a career of choice, attracting more people into the sector. 

One of the ways that we support to increase capacity is by drawing attention to the current challenges and the solutions through our workforce intelligence and annual reports. 

Our annual State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England 2022 report gives a comprehensive insight into the adult social care workforce. 

On the day of publication of this year’s report, tweets about the report reached over 27,500 people, with 86 retweets and 19 quote tweets of the launch post alone. Our overall reach for all related Skills for Care posts, across Twitter and LinkedIn, was 75,566 (with 2,228 engagements). 

From the initial launch, to ongoing citing of data from the report since it was released, we recorded 827 pieces of media coverage between 11 October 2022 and 24 November 2022 across online, print and broadcast media including national, regional and care sector press. 

Our report and findings were used in a House of Lords debate and continued to be used in parliamentary activity and policy development around social care. 

The Office for National Statistics stated:

[The ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’] report is the most comprehensive publicly available source of workforce statistics for the adult social care sector in England"

Source: Office for National Statistics


With around 1 in 10 posts vacant on any given day, retention is key to improving capacity. Our study into new starters in adult social care (which we published in 2022-23) found that the best ways to retain new starters are to: 

  • avoid zero-hours contracts 

  • focus support on young starters 

  • use values-based recruitment and retention practices 

  • train new starters and aim to equip them with a social care qualification, to support their retention in adult social care, beginning with the Care Certificate 

  • recruit locally, pay well and support staff wellbeing 

  • provide high-quality induction and buddy schemes, clearer career pathways and ongoing training opportunities. 


Support and best practice 

We want more employers to adopt Skills for Care best practice insights, tools, data and intelligence to reduce their staff turnover and vacancy rates.  

This year we:  

  • expanded our reach into the sector from 43% of CQC-registered providers to 55%.  

  • delivered values-based recruitment workshops that resulted in a 48% increase in the percentage of employers self-reporting as confident in values-based recruitment after the workshop as compared to before.  

  • found that values-based recruitment and retention practice brings a positive return for employers who implement it (£1.23 for every £1 spent on values-based recruitment [Consilium, 2016]). 

  • delivered eight ‘Safe and fair recruitment’ seminars across England, to help employers understand their rights and responsibilities to applicants or existing staff or volunteers with criminal records. They achieved a 35% increase in knowledge and a 42% increase in confidence. 

  • held three webinars on international recruitment support attended by 268 people, developing a toolkit for employers, creating help sheets, and promoting Department of Health and Social Care resources.  

  • worked with the Local Government Association (LGA) to develop a 'Top tips guide for retention' that has been viewed 1,551 times since launch in February 2023. 

  • supported employers and careers advisors to promote opportunities to everyone including diverse communities, people who are currently under-represented, and students at schools and colleges.  

  • had 288,207 views of the Think Care Careers website – which promotes careers in social care to people outside the sector – between 31 March 22 and 31 March 23. 

  • were involved in the delivery of a series of five ‘Learn live’ careers broadcasts to around 10,000 young people to promote the opportunities of a career in care. Connecting with young people on social care is an important part of building sustainability for the future. 

  • delivered 10 cohorts to eight organisations of our Valuable People product - innovative, wrap around, place-based programme supporting social care organisations and Integrated Care Systems to find and keep the workers they need.  


Looking ahead 

The long-term goal for capacity is to have enough people working in social care with the right values to meet needs now and in the future. 

We'll continue to encourage employers to adopt our best practice insights, tools, data and intelligence to reduce their staff turnover and vacancy rates. 

We're also exploring ways to attract and retain the under-represented demographics of men and younger people in social care.