Skills for Care

Key issues that sector stakeholders hope the ‘Workforce strategy for adult social care’ will address

22 Apr 2024

6 min read

  • Workforce development

Jane Brightman, Director of Workforce Strategy, Skills for Care discusses some of the social care workforce expectations around the workforce strategy for adult social care.

Skills for Care are pleased to have worked with The King’s Fund on producing a report on workforce expectations for a strategy for adult social care. This analysis will feed into the workforce strategy development.

This report involved an analysis of policy and literature which provides a key insight into what people working in adult social care want and need from a workforce strategy.

I’m happy to be able to share some of these insights with you now as Skills for Care focuses this month on #CelebratingSocialCare. The development of this strategy is certainly a cause for celebration.

It is a vital step forward in recognising the important value of social care for our society, and setting out a plan to ensure we have the right people with the right skills working in social care to meet the care needs of our future communities.

This is a truly collaborative effort including many bodies involved with leading and supporting social care as well as with people working directly in and drawing on care and support.

This is our opportunity to take control of the future.

The report asked the question “what are key stakeholders’ expectations of the social care workforce by 2038?”

The key workforce themes which arose were around:

  • pay and conditions
  • training
  • career development
  • regulation and registration
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • mental and physical health
  • leadership and management.

It was widely agreed across stakeholder policy and literature that pay and conditions needed to be improved for the social care workforce. There were also some arguments for linking pay scales to the NHS Agenda for Change pay bands or to living wage levels.

Other terms and conditions, such as sick pay and pension, were also cited as areas of improvement, again with comparisons to the health sector where many believe these conditions are fairer.

Training and career development is another issue which is often raised in social care policy and literature. There’s a strong sentiment that development opportunities for the workforce need to be improved. The development of the sector is something which has been addressed in the Government’s ‘Next steps to put people at the heart of care’ plans and is the ethos behind the Care Workforce Pathway which Skills for Care is working on with the Department of Health and Social Care.

Some are calling for regulation or registration of the entire social care workforce, which is an argument our analysis found to often be put forward. Registration could improve the public image of the sector as well as improving workforce standards, integration with healthcare services and safeguarding. However, these proposals aren’t universally supported by all stakeholders.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is another key issue in social care which a strategy should address.

We do have a diverse workforce in social care in that the percentage of staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds working in the social care sector is higher than the percentage of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in the general population.

However, we know this racial diversity is not reflected at senior levels and there’s also an under-representation of men and younger people across the entire sector.

Key themes that were identified from Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) policy and literature included collaboration, prevention, personalisation and digitalisation.

Meanwhile local authorities focus on a shift to domiciliary care, more specialised skills to meet increasingly complex care and support needs, training and technology.

We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in this research which will be fundamental in supporting the development of the strategy.

We look forward to sharing more updates on the strategy development moving forward.

You can find out more about the workforce strategy for adult social care here.

Topic areas

#CelebratingSocialCare: unforgettable moments and uplifting care stories

#CelebratingSocialCare: stories of resilience