Care Workforce Pathway launched!

The government has launched a new Care Workforce Pathway as part of a wider package of support for the domestic adult social care workforce. Whilst being largely welcomed by the sector, concerns have been raised that Government’s plans do not go far enough to address long-standing issues surrounding recruitment and retention of staff. In addition, it has been claimed that Government’s announcement fails to deal with what is widely regarded to be the most pressing issue currently facing the social care workforce, a fair pay deal.

According to Care England, the largest representative body of independent providers of adult social care in England, the plans being rolled out include:

  • The launch of the Care Workforce Pathway: For the first time, there will be a national career structure for the adult social care workforce, covering the breadth and complexity of care.
  • Over £50m of funding for a new qualification: This will support up to 37,000 individuals in direct adult social care roles to enrol on the new Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate qualification between June 2024 and March 2025.
  • An investment of over £20m for apprenticeships: Local authorities and adult social care providers will be able to use the money towards training and supervising hundreds of new social work and nurse apprentices.
  • Subsidised training places: An uplift to the Workforce Development Fund will expand access to learning and development, creating opportunities for the workforce to become experts in their field or progress into new roles.
  • A new digital leadership qualification: This will help equip social care leaders and managers with the confidence and capability to lead the implementation and use of technology in the delivery of care.

In response to Government’s announcement, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive at Care England, said, ‘This package of measures, including the Care Workforce Pathway, is an opportunity to be an asset to the sector and has the potential to make it a more attractive sector to work in. The value of enhancing our domestic workforce can’t be understated, particularly as we lost over 50,000 domestic workers last year which were replaced by 70,000 international recruits. This value has only become greater in light of the changes made by the Home Office to the international recruitment route late last year.

‘We know career structures and pathways play a key role in attracting and keeping people in adult social care roles. But these are not the only factors. This package of support must be the precedent the Government sets for the year. The promise from this Government to fix social care feels like a distant memory but this is a welcome reminder that this promise has not been forgotten. The impetus is now on the Government to turn the tide and make good on their promise.’

Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), commented, ‘We have long campaigned for measures to establish a career path within social care and for more funding to go into training and qualifications – so these measures are to be welcomed.

‘Our major concern remains the elephant in the room and that is pay. Until we can find a way to pay staff properly for the fantastic job that they do, everything else will be just tinkering at the edges of the problem. Sadly, the Government isn’t doing enough to reform and properly fund the sector and make it an attractive place to work and build a career.

‘We have said it many times, the failure to properly fund commissioners like local authorities is starving the sector of funding and that shows itself in the industry’s inability to match other jobs when it comes to recruitment. We have seen in recent days a supermarket chain significantly increasing the pay of its employees. Without better funding for social care, we simply cannot compete.

‘At the end of last year, the Government introduced measures that will make it harder for social care providers to recruit from overseas but without making any efforts to support providers to recruit in this country. We want to recruit staff and build a professional, committed and motivated workforce to provide excellent care to meet current and future demand. But without the proper support over funding, we cannot do so.’

Professor Vic Rayner OBE, Chief Executive Officer at the National Care Forum (NCF), said,

‘Today’s announcements are important first steps in adult social care workforce reform and will be welcomed by providers who have paused progression routes and activities in anticipation of the arrival of the pathway.

‘The news that additional funding will become available for training and development in the sector is also welcome, although without details of what this will mean in practice it is difficult to determine impact. The commitment to train nearly 40,000 staff is a step up from the current position but represents under 10% of all new starters in the sector, and of course none of these commitments come with any focus on moving us closer to a set of pay, terms and conditions that match the skills and expertise laid out in the new pathway. The role of a care worker is complex and skilled – and a pathway without an accompanying properly funded pay structure will do little to attract and retain people to progress through the career structure.

‘There are over 17,000 organisations delivering care and support across England – and it is vital that we have a workforce infrastructure that allows all organisations of all sizes to benefit from the changes outlined today. Social care delivers publicly funded services needed by millions of people each and every year. The Government must make the strategic decision to ensure that it adequately funds the pay, terms and conditions of the workforce to ensure we have the care and support we need both now and in the future.’

reference: care management matters

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