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Building a workforce fit for the future

Andy Tilden, Interim CEO for Skills for Care

Andy Tilden, Interim CEO for Skills for Care discusses the workforce challenges and positive change in our sector for 2020 and beyond.

Social care shot up the political agenda in the cut and thrust of the General Election, so in 2020 I want us to make sure that workforce is at the heart of what I hope will be a serious, grown up debate about what sort of workforce we want not only in 2020, but into the future

That debate will need to look at how we find, train and fund that workforce, but also how we make more use of technology, and that we’re listening to the millions of our fellow citizens who use social care services across England. I want all of our 18,500 employers who employ 1.49 workers to make their voice heard.

I recently attended our annual Accolades award where social care employers come together to share their knowledge and commitment to innovation in what we know is a tough operating environment. As I sat watching the pride those outstanding employers have in what they do, I just wanted to bottle that enthusiasm to share it with people in our communities who often only engage with social care in a crisis

That event also reminded me we need to be much more proactive about changing the media narrative so when they’re looking to tell a more positive tale about how our sector does changes lives, we need to engage with them. We must always condemn bad practice from a minority, but when meeting employers I hear story after story of services that really make a difference so let’s shout it from the rooftops.

On a practical level we need to build on the work we’re doing to deal with the sector’s ongoing recruitment and retention issues.  I make no apology for repeating that on any given day we need to fill 120,000 vacancies, so we need to use a more positive media profile to show potential recruits the personal and professional rewards on offer in social care

With that in mind I want to see as many employers as possible use our values-based recruitment tools finding people who have strong core values. We know these strong candidates are much likely to stay after their induction because they know what to expect and have the personal attributes to step up.

Leadership will continue to a big priority for us as we know well-led services are usually rated as good or outstanding. But we know the critical role of registered managers in delivering great services can be an isolating one, so I want to see more registered managers sign up for our growing national registered manager networks, offering them valuable time to network with their peers, gain new knowledge and maybe just get something off their chests in a safe and supportive space.

On the strategic front I want us to continue to push for more integration so social care, health and other professionals become equal partners in working closely together to support individual needs. We hear about some really good examples of that happening across the country, but we need to be much more agile in sharing and spreading learning from those projects.

I’m not unaware of the challenges ahead that will impact on all of us but speaking to employers and their workers I remain optimistic. That’s not me being starry eyed or naïve, but we have an opportunity in the coming year to make sure everyone knows that our workforce is a force for positive change in our communities.

2020 needs to be a year where more and more people have a greater appreciation of the contribution our workforce makes to social cohesion, but also opens an honest debate around what sort of workforce we want.

And I think we can make that happen.

For more information on how Skills for Care can support adult social care employers to recruit, develop and lead their workforce, go to www.skillsforcare.org.uk

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