Dec 18

A busy year but much more to do

Posted: 4 December 2018

As we’re coming to the end of a busy year, our CEO Sharon Allen, looks back at some of Skills for Care’s achievements in 2018.  

Given the significant challenges facing our sector, it’s not surprising we’ve had a busy year. Our locality teams have been out and about supporting employers across England with their workforce development, and at a national level, we’ve been trying to ensure that the employer voice is being heard. As I look back at 2018 I wanted to share just a few of the things we’ve done this year.


Recruitment and retention remains a challenge for the sector, with 110,000 social care vacancies on any given day.

One project I’m particularly proud of is our work supporting the ‘See potential’ campaign. This is about helping employers take an open approach to recruitment and removing barriers that might stop people applying for social care jobs. This is a great way to attract people from all kinds of backgrounds, and particularly those who are under-represented in the workforce such as care leavers, single parents, disabled people, ex-offenders and people who are homeless. ‘Looking past the label’ and recruiting people for their values and behaviours is a great place to start, and our ‘Values based recruitment toolkit’ can help you do this.

Throughout these projects one of the main issues employers often flagged up was the fear and confusion they felt around recruiting people with a criminal record. That’s why we’ve just published our ‘Safe and fair recruitment’ guide, which explains employer’s legal rights and responsibilities around DBS checks.

Learning and development

Every organisation delivers their learning and opportunities differently and finding learning providers isn't always easy. This year we’ve updated our online directory to make it easier to find high quality learning providers in your area. Search the directory here.

We know employers are facing increasing funding pressures, and learning and development can often be the first budget to come under scrutiny. I’m pleased to report that in 2017/18 more than 3,400 organisations claimed money for qualifications through the Workforce Development Fund (WDF). It’s one way of making your training budget go further and you can find the list of qualifications we can fund here.

Leadership and management

For me and everyone at Skills for Care, leadership continues to be a key priority. We know from CQC data that services who are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ with the CQC for well-led, are more likely to receive a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating overall. This highlights the importance of having confident and competent leaders and managers.

This year we’ve run a range of leadership programmes to support managers at all levels, and we’ve had some great feedback. I was delighted to hear from Registered Manager, Tamara Brown, who went on our popular Well-led programme. She told us: “[the programme was a] massive inspiration and has helped me lead and guide a stronger staff team.”

One of the things that managers told us they find really useful is the opportunity to network with their peers. In 2018 we’ve supported 150 registered managers’ networks, so that managers in every local authority in England now have the opportunity to share ideas and best practices. And because they’re chaired by registered managers themselves, the topics discussed are always relevant. If you’re a registered manager and haven’t already joined, I’d strongly suggest that you join your local network.

Intelligence about the workforce

Skills for Care remains the leading source of workforce intelligence about the adult social care sector and thank you to everybody who submitted data to our National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC).

As the debate about our sector’s workforce gathers pace, we’ve continued to use this data as evidence for policy and decision makers at a national and local level. To make it easier for you to access useful data we launched our new Workforce Intelligence website.

We have lots of useful data on our sector, but one statistic that always hits home for me is the number of people working in adult social care was estimated at 1.47 million. We're an important sector that employs more people than the NHS and contributes £3billion to our economy. I think the message that adult social care is a vital community service has really hit home this year, and we’ve made some progress towards people recognising that we have a highly skilled workforce.

Final thoughts

We’ve had a busy year, which is it as it should be, because creating a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is central to making sure the sector can deliver high quality, person-centred care and support. 

But I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re not facing significant challenges over the coming year. I can assure you we’ll not be resting on our laurels as there’s so much more to do.

I want to end by thanking everyone we’ve worked with over the last year, because quite simply, we couldn’t do any of our work without you. Sometimes that means being a critical friend to us, which I appreciate, and we do listen and we do respond. With that in mind, if you have any feedback, suggestions or ideas about how we can do this better please get in touch. Our information team are on hand 9-5, Monday to Friday, or get in touch via social media @skillsforcare.