Skills for Care

Our CEO Oonagh Smyth reflects on the latest vacancy rates across adult social care and what we're doing to help employers recruit and retain staff.

19 Jan 2022

5 min read

  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Skills for Care
  • Workforce planning

One of the things we use the data employers supply to our Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) for is to track monthly trends across the sector.

The latest figures for December 2021 reveal that vacancy rates across the sector are running at 9.4%, which is higher than they were pre-covid when we had 105,000 vacancies on any given day.

It’s not a surprise to us as feedback we have from employers is that finding and keeping people is tougher than it’s ever been, but the power of this data tracking is that it shows what is happening on the frontline so we can start to think about we can do to tackle this pressing sector wide challenge.

The reality is that social care is recruiting in a very competitive job market where other sectors are offering higher wages and signing on bonuses which means it’s a very tough environment for our employers to attract the people they need.

But data has the most value when it’s used to support our 17,200 employers to not only fill those gaps that impact on care quality, but to think about reframing the messaging about joining our sector as an opportunity for new starters. What this data highlights is a chance for the sector to present opportunities to start in rewarding and long-term careers where each and every day they make a genuine difference in other people’s lives.

As I’ve said repeatedly the simple fact is that without the incredible efforts of every one of the 1.5 million people working in social care over the last two years our sector would have collapsed.

But we also know this is an incredibly challenging time for our sector’s employers which means finding quality recruits with the right values is critical as we begin to think about a post-covid world. That’s why we’re focusing our activity this month on helping social care employers, managers, and the wider workforce to prepare for the year ahead, with our #PrepareToCare22 campaign. .

We’ll be focusing on providing information on how employers can engage with initiatives like the Department of Health and Social Care’s national recruitment campaign for adult social care, apply for Workforce Development Fund funding, advice on how to use our resources around planning for learning and development and critically supporting employers to focus on their own and their team’s wellbeing.

We’ll be sharing top tips like our webpage on supporting mandatory vaccinations, insights from others working in the sector, and round-ups of our key resources through articles and blogs on our website as well as on our social media channels using #PrepareToCare22.

That’s what we’re doing in the short term, but in this period of proposed reform for our sector we’ll also be working with partners to think about what we can do to make sure that our workforce is properly rewarded and recognised for the highly-skilled and increasingly complex work they do. To help us continue to make this case, we’d like to thank all employers who’ve been updating ASC-WDS, and encourage those who haven’t yet to do so, and those who haven’t got an account to sign up.

My hope is that we can create a level playing field for our employers who are doing everything they can to find the right people where they can confidently go out into the local job market able to compete with other sectors to find those people who really want to make a difference in their jobs.

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