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The Perception of Social Care and the Workforce Crisis

23 Jul 2018
Posted by: Mark Beaver

It comes as no surprise that finding top quality Care Staff is becoming increasingly difficult. Fewer people are considering Social Care as a career, which is resulting in an ageing workforce and worrying figures for the future.

On the 20th June, a joint letter was sent from Anchor, Care England and United for All Ages, to former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. It urged the government to change the perception of Social Care through public awareness campaigns and sustainable funding for the sector. The focus of the letter is that the government isn’t recognising the hard work of Care Staff and the value that Social Care has in our society. This letter has been written since the news which announced the Social Care Green Paper won’t be released until the Autumn.

This letter has come off the back of recent research, funded by Anchor, which looked at the current UK perceptions of careers in Social Care. The key facts are below:

  • 78% of people are unlikely to consider a career in Social Care.
  • 71% of parents wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue a career in Social Care.
  • 67% think Social Care is undervalued by society.
  • 35% think working in a care home is associated with being a ‘woman’s career’.

Perhaps the most worrying perception around Social Care is the notion that it’s a female career. Only 18% of the Social Care Workforce is male and 85% of the men surveyed said they wouldn’t even consider a career in the sector. If this outdated view of Social Care being a ‘woman’s career’ could be overturned in the UK, we could see a huge influx of male care workers and potentially help to lower the ratios of care staff to residents. 

How Leaving the EU will Affect the Social Care Workforce

With no guarantee of free movement or the right to remain in the UK post-Brexit, we may end up losing many of our Care Staff. The Independent Age ran a Brexit Migration Report which assessed the damage which Brexit could cause to the Social Care sector. As you can imagine, it’s not looking overly positive…

As it stands, 1 in 20 of our care workers in the UK are EEA (European Economic Area) migrants, equating to roughly 84,000 care workers. Furthermore, over 90% of these EEA care workers are not British Citizens and therefore their immigration status is at risk post-Brexit. Below are two possible scenarios that Independent Age are predicting for 2037:

Zero-Net Migration Scenario:

  • Where immigration levels equal the same as the levels of emigration.
  • We would be facing a workforce gap of 1.1 million care workers by 2037. 
  • One care worker would be stretching to cover 13.5 individuals. 
  • The current ratio stands at one care worker for every 7 individuals.

High Migration Scenario:

  • Where a high number of EEA migrants can immigrate to the UK.
  • We would still end up with a shortfall of 350,000 care workers by 2037.
  • This requires high migration levels and a better perception of care in the UK career market.

So, as it stands, by 2037 we could be looking at a workforce deficit anywhere between 350,000 and 1.1 million care workers. We hope to see that the joint letter to the government will help to minimise the workforce crisis expected in the next twenty years.

As mentioned, the Social Care Green Paper has been delayed until the Autumn, but we plan to keep you updated on any news. 

If you are struggling with the current shortfall of quality care workers, or you are concerned about any future hiring, you can contact our Social Care Team here