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Making work experience work for you

Tracey Nicholson

Tracey Nicholson, Project Manager at Skills for Care, talks about how adult social care employers can make work experience work for them.

The adult social care sector is facing huge challenges to recruit more people, with the right skills and values, to meet the future demand for care services. Skills for Care estimates that 90,000 people leave their jobs every day and that we need to find enough people to fill an extra half a million jobs by 2030.

But it’s not just a case of filling vacancies – it’s about filling them with the right people who are likely to stay.

Offering work experience is a great way for people to get an insight into the working world, and gives them valuable experience to enhance their CV and boost their chances in the recruitment process.

There are also the additional benefits work experience can bring to boost the confidence of potential recruits, and really motivate them to want to work in our sector.

When the Department for Education published their careers strategy last December, I was pleased to see that work experience was a priority for students in schools and colleges.

This puts adult social care employers in a strong position to influence people who are making decisions about their careers.

Offering work experience can provide a talent pipeline for your organisation and it can help you see if people are right for the role before they apply.

It inspires me to see that so many employers are genuinely concerned about achieving the best possible outcomes for placement students – they see it as their duty to improve access to the labour market and in return they’ve had lots of benefits from high quality placements.

The Suffolk Brokerage is a not for profit organisation who provide advice and guidance to the social care and health sector in Suffolk. They organised work placements for people who were interested in working in social care, with local employers – over 80% of whom went on to do an apprenticeship.

Louise Clarke from Leading Lives is one employer who offered a placement. She told us that the placement helped them find new recruits who suited their organisation.

“We were able to offer three places in Stowmarket… all of the places were taken by some fantastic young people who all had a genuine interest to work with people with learning disabilities. All three who took part in the programme have gone on to do an apprenticeship with us and we are delighted with their progress. I recommend this method of supporting people in to the sector.” 

Debbie Groom from Ashmore Nursing Home also praised the project for supporting recruitment into the sector.

“My passion is to support people into the sector and help them progress… I was more than happy to be involved in this project. We were able to support a young person with a placement and now she’s become our first apprentice. It’s a good way of engaging with young people and recruiting the right people in to the sector.” 

With the right attitude and support in place, you can make work experience work for you too.

Borough Care work with their local Jobcentre and colleges to offer work experience. They shared some of their top tips with me.

  • No one day in social care is the same, so don’t make your work experience the same.

“Life in a care home is so varied, with no two days the same – so the work experience we offer is diverse to give a rounded view of what it’s like to work there.”  

  • Everyone’s different so tailor your work experience to their interests and skills – there are lots of different job roles in adult social care, so give people the opportunity to explore them. Whilst someone might not want to be a care worker, they might make a great receptionist or kitchen assistant.

“Importantly, tasks are shaped around the person’s interests, skills and capabilities to ensure they’re engaged and motivated.”

  • It’s fine if they say social care isn’t for them. It’ll save you time and costs in the long run if someone says it isn’t the right job for them during work experience, rather than 6 weeks into employment.

If you want to give people the chance to see if social care’s right for them, we’ve developed our new Offering meaningful work experience guide to help.

It has practical step-by-step guidance to help you plan and deliver meaningful work experience, so that you can make work experience work for you.

Visit www.skillsforcare.org.uk/workexperience.

Tracey Nicholson is a project manager with Skills for Care, who leads on their work around work experience and routes into the sector. She can be contacted on slqa@skillsforcare.org.uk.

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