New report from Skills for Care finds filled posts in social care are down for first time on record, highlighting recruitment challenges for sector
A new report from Skills for Care shows the number of filled posts in adult social care is down for the first time on record, with records dating back to 2012/13.
The annual ‘Size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report also found that at the same time vacancy rates have risen. This points to a challenge in recruiting and retaining people to work in adult social care, rather than a decrease in demand for roles.
This year’s report based on data from employers found that the number of filled posts i.e. roles with a person working in them, has decreased by around 3% (50,000) between 2020/21 and 2021/22; the only annual decrease since records began in 2012/13.
Over the same period the number of vacant posts has increased by 55,000 (52%), which suggests that the decrease in filled posts is a result of the sector’s ongoing recruitment and retention difficulties rather than a decrease in demand for care services.
The total number of posts in adult social care in England, including filled posts and staff vacancies, was 1.79m as at 2021/22 an increase of 0.3% from the previous year. The number of filled posts was estimated at 1.62 million and the number of vacant posts was around 165,000.
The study also found that the total number of people working in adult social care as at 2021/22 was estimated at 1.5 million, which is 4.5% of the total workforce in England. This compares to 1.4 million people working in the NHS.
The data also highlighted the dispersed nature of social care, finding there is 17,900 adult social care organisations in England, across an estimated 39,000 establishments.
The decrease in filled posts and corresponding increase in vacancies across adult social care comes as the wider economy has reopened following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the peak of the pandemic, vacancy rates decreased with fewer jobs being available in other sectors, and some care workers reporting they felt they had to help the sector through the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The data suggests that it was independent care providers who have struggled most with recruitment and retention challenges, compared to local authorities. Between 2020/21 and 2021/22, the majority of the decrease in filled posts was in the independent sector down by 45,000 while filled posts in local authorities remained broadly the same.
In residential services, the number of filled posts fell by 13,000 in care only homes and 15,000 in care homes with nursing. This is in line with data showing a greater challenge in filling nursing roles. Meanwhile, in domiciliary care services, the number of filled posts fell by 19,000. This highlights a real challenge with recruitment and retention for these roles despite an increase in demand for home care.
The greatest decrease in filled posts was for direct care providing roles which decreased by 4% (55,000 jobs) across all direct care roles. Registered nurse roles specifically saw a 4.5% decrease in filled posts, reinforcing the specific recruitment challenges for this profession.
Looking at longer-term trends and how the sector has changed since 2012/13, the number of filled posts in adult social care has increased by 120,000 jobs, an increase 8% over this period.
The report shows that if the social care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population then the number of posts will need to increase by around 480,000 posts to around 2.27 million by 2035.
Oonagh Smyth, CEO of Skills for Care says:
This newest report comes ahead of Skills for Care’s more detailed ‘State of the adult social care workforce in England’ report which will be released in October.
Explore our monthly tracking of vacancies, total staff, occupancy rates and sickness.
View the full ‘Size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report.
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