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Building a better, more diverse and inclusive care sector for the future

Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO, CareTech Foundation

Building a better, more diverse and inclusive care sector for the future

In my previous articles for Care Talk, I have stressed the importance of ensuring that the future of the social care sector is stable, secure and positioned to be a rewarding career choice for young people. This isn’t just something that we can think about down the road; this is a call to action that requires the immediate implementation of policies that address the issues affecting our industry.  It really is time for the sector to roll its sleeves up and take real and sustained action on these issues.

An estimated 440,000 care workers leave their job every year, requiring recruiters to fill 120,000+ job vacancies at any given time. The wasted costs involved in this revolving door of recruitment are shameful.   The estimated staff turnover rate in the adult social care sector is over 30%, creating a huge gap between the need for care and available resources.

But the resources are available! According to a study conducted by The Prince’s Trust, 12% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK are currently unemployed, while the NHS has 100,000 live vacancies at any given time despite being the world’s 5th largest employer.  There are 1.52 million young people in the UK eligible to work for the NHS, but only 6% of the NHS workforce is aged 25 or under.

According to that same study, 60% of young people surveyed said they care about their community – but, so sadly, 34% feel that their community does not care about them.  Meanwhile, too many professional environments remain unrepresentative of the communities they serve.

The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the life chances of young people.  As one of the few sectors with growing recruitment needs, we need to be much bolder in recruiting from more diverse groups, especially those from groups most impacted by the economic and other impacts of the pandemic. A commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the recruitment process is essential to ensure that care sector professionals and those they help are able to survive and prosper in the future.

Over the last year, CareTech Foundation has entered into a number of partnerships with youth charities in an effort to encourage the sector to give far greater priority towards the recruitment of young people, with a particular focus on encouraging young people from BAME and other under-represented backgrounds to consider these types of careers.

Just last month, we finalised our partnership with The Prince’s Trust, joining their ‘Get into Health and Social Care’ programme as the first private sector social care organisation to join this initiative. The programme will work to secure careers for 10,000 young people in the health and social care sector across England over the next four years. Our grant agreement will go to help fund the career placement and development of at least 320 young people.

As of December 2020, 1,229 young people have attended a Prince’s Trust Health & Social Care programme, resulting in over 400 getting jobs in the health & social care sectors.  A fantastic 35% are these young people are from minority and under-represented backgrounds.

In addition, earlier this year, we partnered with young person’s charity EY Foundation and their programme called “Beyond Your Limits” which aims to double the rate of care-experienced young people successfully moving into employment, education or training.  This was a programme that we co-developed as both organisations recognised the need for a bespoke focussed approach for this group of young people whose life chances are so limited compared to their peers.

Supporting programmes like the ones mentioned above is an essential step in improving the recruitment pipeline.  It is, however, just as important that care providers look carefully at their own internal systems and biases to ensure that hiring managers are more open-minded about who they recruit.  A key element of that should be placing Diversity Equity & Inclusion at the heart of their businesses to ensure that those from different backgrounds are comfortable working in their organisations and that those organisations value the contributions that a more diverse workforce brings.

An example of this can be found on CareTech Foundation’s website, where we have a very public DEI commitment to underline the importance we attach to this issue.  You can find it below for your reference should you want to model something similar for your organisation:

https://www.caretechfoundation.org.uk/trustees-report-2019/diversity-equity-and-inclusion/

Beyond policies, however, is the need for a change in mindset, especially amongst hiring managers.  Playing it safe in our recruitment practices – such as always choosing experience over other factors – has contributed to our issues today.  It’s not hard to see that ’more of the same’ just won’t cut the mustard!  Hiring managers need to embrace the huge gains to be had from recruiting from a far more diverse set of backgrounds and nurturing new talent – and being far more ambitious in their thinking and approach.

Our young people want to work, especially those from BAME backgrounds and other communities that have been most affected by COVID-19. They want to have a job where they can help their communities directly.  But we, as industry leaders, have to give them the opportunities to do so in order to secure a better, more diverse and inclusive care sector for the future.

@jonathanfreeman

 

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