The social care workforce: how to improve readiness, recruitment and progression | QCS

The social care workforce: how to improve readiness, recruitment and progression

Dementia Care
May 25, 2017

The social care workforce is predicted to grow enormously over the coming years, by up to half a million by 2025. However, the sector faces significant challenges in attracting and keeping skilled staff:

  • Turnover rates are reported at 20%
  • Opportunities for career progression can be limited
  • Some studies suggest that some staff are even paid less than the minimum wage

The recruitment and retention of skilled care workers has never been more critical, given the pressure on the social care sector. There are real challenges to confront, including low pay, poor progression paths, and difficulties recruiting enough workers with the right values for the job. Unless these issues can be effectively addressed, the quality of services is not going to improve. We need some practical strategies which can make a difference.

We at SCIE were commissioned by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to undertake a research study into workforce readiness, recruitment and progression in the social care sector. The study has examined workforce readiness and progression both nationally and more specifically in East London; looking at current and future trends and what works in increasing workforce readiness, recruitment of appropriately skilled staff and the development of high-quality career pathways in social care.

Our research suggests there is a need to invest in initiatives and campaigns that seek to reposition the sector in the public imagination. For example, this could involve promoting the exciting future of social care in relation to technological innovations, or including people who use services in promoting the benefits of working in social care. We call that co-production. Other areas where we make suggestions on are:

  • Better recruitment of young people
  • Preparing people to work in the sector
  • Values-based recruitment
  • Offering more flexibility to those who wish to work in the sector
  • Better progression routes

There will not be a single, simple solution to these challenges. The report argues, therefore, that we need a coordinated, multi-pronged approach to tackling workforce shortages and improving career progression paths – with investments made to support a range of different initiatives.

A PDF version of the report is available to download for My SCIE account holders

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Leigh Johnston

Head of Analytical Support & Senior Research Analyst Improvement (SCIE)


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