Posted: 13 February 2017
Helen Wilcox, CEO of Woodford homecare and Skills for Care Vice Chair talks about recruiting and developing the best young talent.
One of the things that keeps me awake at night – both as an employer and Skills for Care Vice Chair – is how we will find enough quality people to fill both social care’s existing and future vacancies.
On any given day we have around 90,000 live vacancies across England, and our National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) is estimating we will need to fill around 275,000 job roles over the next decade.
The simple fact is we need to recruit more people who need to change careers, people who have been unemployed for a long time, many more disabled people and convince young people that social care not only offers a rewarding career, but long term prospects too.
All too often our sector can be its own worst enemy and one way I know that is true is some employers are still reluctant to employ young people aged 16-18. Their argument is that those young workers can’t do the full job so why employ them?
I know that is a myth because I’ve read the guidance from Skills for Care which clearly states that with the right training and support those young workers can do the same job as their older colleagues.
So I was delighted when my local college referred us two 16 year olds, Tyler Stokes and Danielle Perry who were registered with National Apprenticeship Service, and said they thought my company offering domiciliary care would be the best fit for them to undertake the new adult care worker Apprenticeship.
So our first act after we had the referral was to use Skills for Care’s value based recruitment toolkit to look at what sort of people they were. Did they - despite their age - have core values like compassion, dignity and respect that underpins our company ethos?
I was really pleased when the results came back showing that they both demonstrated that they were the sort of recruits our company requires in our workforce. They are now getting on with completing the Care Certificate, so not surprisingly their confidence and skills are growing fast.
They have benefited from the tailored support from their line manager and good role modelling demonstrated from their colleagues on the front line. It is so easy to feed into the negative stereotypes about young people, but our two apprentices are remarkable in their strength, resilience, attitude to work and....they are always smiling.
Don’t just take my word for it. The feedback from the people Tyler and Danielle support has been uniformly excellent. In fact, one person they work with said they were ‘blown away that these young people have chosen to do this kind of work, personal care.’
In my experience it is often relatives who are rightly quick to raise any concerns about the care their loved ones received, so I was heartened to hear from one client who has had both apprentices supporting her mum. She said to me that there had been some initial misgivings that such young workers were coming to support her mum. But she told me that both apprentices had really connected with her mum and built a strong rapport with plenty of laughter along the way.
Feedback like that means I’m very proud of our two young apprentices and someone said to me that they will be running a company like mine in 30 years’ time. I had to smile, and say Tyler and Danielle will be doing it a darn sight quicker than me, which is a tribute to their huge potential that we are only just beginning to see.
To find out more about the new Adult Care Worker Apprentices go to www.skillsforcare.org.uk/newstandards.