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COVID-19 is redefining the value of ‘critical jobs’: An opportunity for social care?

Despite the varied and rewarding nature of a job which makes a real difference to the lives of adults from a range of backgrounds every single day, it is fair to say that a career in social care has had something of an image problem.

Some might say that it has taken a global pandemic for social care workers to start to be given the value, credit and recognition that they have long deserved. Many misplaced assumptions – low skilled work, lack of career progress – have been challenged overnight as care workers have been elevated to equivalent status to NHS staff, both risking their lives to ensure that the country’s most vulnerable are looked after and protected during COVID-19 and beyond.

Despite the rewards that a career in social care brings, many care providers have found it challenging to recruit for all available positions, exacerbated by a high staff turnover rate of 30%. Many have looked abroad to fill the void, with approximately 20% of the adult social care workforce originating from outside the UK, including from other European countries, the British Commonwealth and beyond. With Government efforts to limit immigration and end the UK’s reliance on overseas workers, new legislation is on the horizon for 2021 which will make it harder for social care companies to recruit from abroad.

It is my view that there is now an immediate opportunity for social care providers to look closer to home when it comes to recruiting talent. As a consequence of coronavirus, tens of thousands of staff within the airline and hospitality industries have been furloughed, many for an indefinite period of time. A new talent pool has opened up. There is an opportunity for social care providers to try and attract the current surplus of workers towards social care jobs to help fill the many permanent and temporary vacancies in their sector.

For those social care organisations who are deeply invested in this sector, there is a real opportunity to re-write what a career in social care means, bringing to life its benefits and rewards to attract individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have considered a career in the sector. The time to act is now.

By Daniela B.

8th April 2020

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