A shortfall in experienced senior mangers within the social care sector is creating a leadership vacuum which could add further strain to the sector’s already limited resources, according to leading independent social care management advisers, Carter Schwartz.
Responding to new figures published last week by Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre-UK, which found that social care sector faces a possible shortfall of one million care professionals by 2037, Carter Schwartz has warned that the shortages are not restricted to care worker roles, the pinch is also being felt higher up the ladder too.
Adam Carter, managing director at Carter Schwartz, said: “There is a significant shortage of senior management and board-level leaders within the care sector who can deliver successful outcomes for providers.
“This partly due to the pressure on social care budgets that is seeing the sector on the whole struggle to compete in the talent market. But it is also due to the limited number of providers that have an effective succession plan in place, which means that fewer managers are being developed as potential future leaders of organisations.”
The situation is exacerbated by an ageing workforce, with more than 50% of those working in the social care sector being aged over 45 yet as few as 1 in 10 [12%] are under 25. This, Mr Carter warns, poses a real threat to the care sector’s long-term stability.
He said: “Unless a way is found to make itself an attractive career choice for new entrants, and one that offers ample long term opportunities, the social care sector faces a leadership challenge that could radically destabilise the entire foundations upon which it is built.”
Carter Schwartz, which is one of the UK’s leading recruiters of senior level positions for the social care sector, has spent the last few months canvassing the opinion of care providers across the UK on how they feel the sector can best overcome the senior management and leadership shortfalls its faces.
“There is general consensus of opinion. Providers can continue recruiting in the same way, but they must be prepared to get the same results and face the same challenges. A second option is that they can recruit the talent they need from outside the sector – this will certainly plug the most immediate gaps. Or they can take a long-term view.
“An effective succession plan needs to be in place and a clearly defined career path needs to be communicated to all new entrants. This will encourage new entrants to envisage how their career could develop over time and with the appropriate mentoring and training development plan in effect care providers will have an internal talent base that is commercially-ready to assume a leadership role; key initiatives such as the Skills for Care* are certainly playing a part, but they could be stepped up a gear if we are going to avert a real leadership shortage in the near future.”
According to Mr Carter, there is no silver bullet to overcoming the leadership challenge in the social care sector.
He concluded by saying: “We have a vast pool of well-qualified and caring talent at graduate level, ideally suited to a career in care. It suffices to say that not taking advantage of what the graduate market has to offer would be a real mistake for the sector.”
*Skills for Care is the workforce development body for adult social care in England which offers 20 graduates a year a fast track into management.