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Health And Social Care Sector Struggling To Rally Workers Amid Record Talent Shortage

Research by Brook Street Social Care has found that the Healthcare and Life Sciences industry is experiencing a record talent shortage, with employers struggling to attract skilled candidates. Brook Street Social Care is calling for employers in the social care space to prioritise ‘human skills’ in the hiring process to attract talent and address training bottlenecks, as demand for care workers grows to record highs.

According to Brook Street Social Care’s 2023 study, 83% of organisations in the sector are struggling to find skilled talent to deliver essential services. Data by Skills for Care also shows that out of the 1.8m jobs available, there are 12% unfilled job posts in social care. To keep up with the expected growing demand, the sector will have to increase in size by 52% on top of the current demand by 2035. However, it is currently seeing an employee turnover rate of 30%.

Due to the Government adding the Health and Care Worker visa to the Shortage Occupation List, 2023 saw international hires in the social care sector more than triple, resulting in the first recorded year-over-year increase in filled posts in the sector. However, the 83% talent shortage – the second highest figure recorded by any UK sector – renders this largely insignificant.

Teresa Wilson, Operations Director said: “While many frontline workers in health and social care are demanding better working conditions and wages through industrial action, employers are struggling to hire and retain the growing number of employees the sector needs to meet increasing demands of service users.”

Wilson continues: “Traditional social care is being reimagined through new technological innovations. Where routine tasks can be automated in the care space, the experience of service users can be improved by freeing up carers to focus on the innately human elements of their roles, which also makes the care sector a more attractive place to work.

According to the research, the most in-demand human skills include resilience, critical thinking, leadership and problem-solving. By seeking out these essential skills, employers can better align their talent search strategies with the evolving needs of the sector. Focusing on aptitude and potential could open doors for previously overlooked talent, enabling employers to fill their vacancies.

Wilson adds: “Employers need to focus on future-proofing their industry, making jobs more accessible and ensuring that support for training and qualifications is front and centre. Crucially, employers can’t just ‘hire to fill gaps’ – if they have roles to fill they need to be thinking about creating good jobs, offering good pay, flexibility and training, with future opportunities to retain the hot talent they’ve managed to secure.

“Part of the issue is that many people have the skills and years of experience, but these are not always recognised across the industry. Employers need to recognise that essential criteria in the job description matches the skills needs and qualifications needed for the role, rather than asking for qualifications that aren’t necessary for the role, and many candidates lack the time and money to attain.”

Wilson concludes: “To navigate this change effectively, frontline delivery needs to be reinvented to address shortages and improve access to care. While technology is driving much of the change that is needed, the business of being human has never been more important. It will be the organisations that put people first and value the human skills of resilience, problem solving, and leadership, will thrive in this next stage of the sector’s development.”