Skills for Care today released the findings of its annual ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce’ report, which highlights the social and economic value of social care workers, and the need to recruit, support and retain new staff into the sector. Data from 8,000 organisations and 650,000 workers informed the report, to analyse the trends and impact of policy changes and economic shifts.
Key findings from the report showed a growth in the sector, with a workforce of around 1.52 million compared to around 1.4 million NHS workers. The adult social care sector is estimated to contribute £41.2 billion per annum to the economy in England and worth more than the oil industry and the culture sector.
Kathy Roberts, Chair of the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) – the national alliance of trade associations representing 10,000 adult social care providers – welcomed the report’s findings and said:
COVID-19 has rapidly raised the profile of the adult social care sector, and of the complex and skilled role that care workers play in supporting some of our most vulnerable people in our country. The Skills for Care report reminds us that, despite this improved awareness, much needs to be done to ensure we have sufficient numbers of well-supported care workers right now, and in the future.
“The CPA is calling for a long-term Social Care People Plan – similar to that being developed for the NHS People Plan. We want to see parity with our colleagues in the NHS, in terms of recognition as a skilled workforce, and in terms of reward through comparable pay and conditions.
“The report has revealed that despite some recent improvements in recruitment, we still need over 100,000 care workers in the sector. We want to see structured career pathways that ensure working in care is an attractive profession for everyone with the right values and commitment. Care work should not be portrayed as an alternative to a job in a supermarket. Yet, retail staff on average earn 24p more an hour than a care worker, raising concerns about the wider issues on pay.
“Care workers are not listed as an eligible occupation on the ‘Skilled Workers’ route of the new points-based immigration system, due to come into effect from January 2021. The adult social care sector in England is a major employer and contributor to the economy and as such, investment in the care workforce should be a priority at a national level. As we face a major recession, social care can offer people new career opportunities.”