Skills for Care

Next steps for the Care workforce pathway for adult social care

26 Jun 2023

5 min read

  • Learning and development
  • Retention
  • Recruitment
  • Skills for Care
  • Workforce development

As the call for evidence for the new care workforce pathway closes, Oonagh Smyth, CEO, Skills for Care and Anna Boaden, Deputy Director Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) reflect on engagement so far and next steps.

Firstly, we want to say a huge thank you to the 500-plus people who have taken the time to respond to the call for evidence so far. We really value your insights and appreciate you taking time to share your experience and opinions to shape this new pathway to make it the most effective it can be.

Thank you everyone who’s been involved in our engagement events, which has included registered managers, nominated individuals, CEOs, directors of adult social services, learning providers, HR leads, large national employers, and members of the Care Workers Forum.

Our discussions and the call for evidence have shown enthusiasm for this new pathway. It is being widely viewed as a positive step in the right direction.

People have told us they can see how the pathway could help to recognise and support the professionalism of people working in social care; influence a shift in the wider perception of social care and help to retain and develop staff.

Of course, there are also questions and concerns which we’ll be discussing further and developing as we move on to the next stages.

We’ve heard concerns about pay and pay differentials, a range of opinions on how the pathway will link with integrated working between health and social care, and questions about how the pathway aligns with wider workforce reform for social care.

We have established an expert consultation group, which includes stakeholders from across health and social care. This group will give us useful insights and expertise into the content of the pathway and we will be meeting monthly as we develop the pathway.

We’re happy to be able to share a message of support from one of our roundtable discussions, from Lisa Fyfe, Joint CEO, Caremark.

She says:

Caremark supports the Government addressing the need for a care workforce pathway, we believe such a pathway will contribute towards changing the perception of working in the home care industry, whilst also reducing some of the existing recruitment and retention challenges that care providers face.

Our care assistants play a vital role - helping those in need to live a happy and fulfilling life, independently in their own home. It is so important that we recognise the fantastic work they do by providing them with a clear career path to enable them to progress in their career and as individuals.

Lisa’s words echo the strategic vision behind the care workforce pathway.

We want people who draw on care and support to lead a fulfilling life, playing a full role in society. That means having reassurance that the people providing their support are confident, skilled, experienced, and have the right values.

We know that the care and support workforce are our biggest asset. Trusting relationships and the dedication and skill of social care workers forms the foundation of outstanding social care. We want people working in social care to be recognised as having important roles, and to be recognised as the professionals that they are.

This means supporting people working in social care to achieve their full potential and to feel confident to deliver high-quality care. It means empowering people working in social care to develop themselves and their career in an environment where they’re informed on how to gain skills, access learning and development, and progress in their careers in a way that meets their aspirations.

Currently there’s no universal career structure or clear articulation of the level of knowledge, experience and skill that’s required to deliver high-quality, personalised care and support.

The care workforce pathway will help to better articulate what a career in social care means, supporting the development of a consistent understanding of what it is to be a professional working in adult social care.

Following the close of the call for evidence we’re moving on to the design phase of the pathway and we look forward to sharing further updates. Our intention is for the first iteration of the pathway – focused on care and support worker roles – to be available in the autumn.

We will share further updates over the summer, including how we will continue to work with people working in and drawing on care and support, as we develop plans for implementation.

Once again thank you to everyone who’s been involved in the process so far and we’re excited to move on to the next phase of this very important work which is set to have a real positive impact for the people working in social care now and in the future.


Find out more about the Care workforce pathway for adult social care.

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