Jeanine Willoughby, Project Manager at Skills for Care, reflects on a project she’s working on about how adult social care employers can create a more inclusive workforce by seeing the potential in people.
Some people face barriers to moving into work and not everyone has recent experience or qualifications to support them. However people from all kinds of backgrounds can have the right values to work in our sector.
This year I’m fortunate to be leading a project that’s exploring how social care and health employers can become more inclusive by recruiting a workforce which better reflects their local community.
One way of doing this is by actively targeting people who are currently under-represented in the workforce, who might also face barriers to employment. This could be, for example, people who are long-term unemployed, people with physical disabilities or long-term health conditions, ex-offenders, single parents, care leavers and ex-carers, to name but a few.
We’re working with five support organisations who are testing new ways the sector can support people who are furthest from the jobs market to become work ready.
I recently got on the road to visit one of these projects – Care Plus Group in Grimsby.
Part of their work is to support people who live on the East Marsh estate in Grimsby, – which is one of the most socially deprived areas of England – into employment. And they do this through the focused effort of employability officers who work one to one with people to support them on their journey from unemployment to being work ready.
On my visit I met Lauren* and Denise who talked to me about their experience of the project.
Lauren, who’s a single parent and care leaver, was about to finish a work placement at a day care centre for older people. From our short 15 minute conversation, she had already convinced me she had lots of the values and skills we’d expect social care workers to have. She’d recently applied for a permanent care position with support from Care Plus Group and was practicing her interview skills for if the application was successful.
I also met Denise who has a visual impairment and has been out of work for around 30 years. She told me about her placement which was working with people with learning disabilities – as soon as we started talking I could see how much she was enjoying it.
As well as their incredible enthusiasm for finding a job in social care, it was clear that project had a big impact on their lives – they both spoke about how much more confident they were.
But I couldn’t help wonder, what if Lauren and Denise aren’t successful in their job applications? We know that some employers still rate qualifications and experience higher than a person’s values and how they behave.
It is true that my 15 minute conversation went into nowhere near the amount of detail you’d ask someone in a full interview or pre-screening session. But here I saw two people who were so passionate and excited about the prospect of working in our sector, and I couldn’t help but keep my fingers crossed for both of them.
Now, back in the office I need to think seriously about what we need to do to convince and support employers to reach out to people who face barriers moving into work – some of whom might lack formal qualifications, but have the right values that we’re always looking for in social care.
Read more about the projects and keep up to date with new resources and guidance at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/seeingpotential