Skills for Care

Why we need to recruit a new demographic into a career in care

14 Sep 2023

5 min read

  • Culture and diversity
  • Recruitment

Our CEO, Oonagh Smyth, discusses the importance of attracting a new demographic into a career in care, including more men and younger people.

Our data tell us that of the 1.5million people working in adult social care in England, 82% are female and the average age is 45.

This might describe you, or a number of your colleagues.

We know that the social care sector is by and large made up of women, and that only 8% of our workforce are under the age of 25.

While vacancy rates have decreased year-on-year, they remain at 152,000 vacancies on any given day. That’s a large number of posts needing to be filled, and to do this we need to look at reaching out to different groups of people who may not typically work in social care, as we can’t fill all these posts by only recruiting from the same group.

Additionally, with over a quarter of our workforce aged 55 and over, a large proportion of people may choose to retire in the next 10 years. Yet, with only 8% of staff aged under 25 we don’t have enough younger people to take over the positions of retiring staff or to continue to grow the sector to meet increasing demand for care in the future.

The turnover rate is highest for the youngest age group at 52.6% - suggesting many younger people may view care roles as a temporary position while studying or pursuing other work.

It's vital that we attract more young people to join and to stay in the care sector to sustain the future of our workforce and ensure that everyone can access the care and support they need in the future.

To do this we need to really showcase the rewarding opportunities that a career in care can bring our younger generations.

We know from our research that some of the elements that younger people seek from their work are a good work/life balance; the chance to do something that makes a real difference; variety in every day; being able to incorporate their passions, and having the opportunity to progress.

A career in social care can offer all these things, and we need to ensure our young people know that.

While some perceptions of social care are out of our hands, we can help to showcase the rewards of a career in care to younger people by taking every opportunity to showcase positive examples of people working in care, raising awareness about what different care roles involve, and engaging directly with younger people at events such as school and college fairs and via the social media channels that they use, such as TikTok and Instagram. Knowing what demographics you want to target can help you to identify the best ways to reach them.

We know that attracting younger men into a career in care has proven even more challenging than recruiting younger women.

This chimes with the disproportionately high number of women working in social care.

So, why do we need more men working in social care?

Social care supports a wide range of diverse people, and so we need a diverse range of people to support them, including more men.

With women accounting for over three quarters of the social care workforce, we run the risk of social care being seen as ‘women’s work’.

Unfairly, ‘women’s work’ is typically undervalued and underpaid.

Without being valued and supported, the social care sector can’t reach its full potential.

It’s also a ‘catch 22’ situation, wherein men might not choose to join a sector which they see as being undervalued and so the cycle will continue.

Having a greater gender split across social care will help to change perceptions of what a career in care looks like and who a care worker is. These changing perceptions could help to highlight the complexity of working in care, the skills base of our care staff, and the important contribution which care workers make to our communities.

This will help social care to be better valued which will support the sector to grow and develop to best meet the needs of our society.

To attract more men into care we need to be clever about how we target and engage men – think about where we’re placing job adverts and how we’re wording them so they are seen by and engaged with by men. A key part of this is in highlighting the variety of roles, as we know men working in social care tend to be more interested in the outreach and community aspects of the role compared to personal care for example.

And just like with younger people, we need to shout about the great work that the men who are working in care are doing and showcase examples to encourage more men to join.

Ultimately, the social care sector needs to recruit and retain more people, and in order to do this we need to reach out to new demographics as well as continuing to develop the great people we already have working in care.


Read  more blogs and articles about recruitment on our #RecruitRight spotlight.

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