Social Care – how to attract a new generation. Over 1.63 million people in the UK work in social care. To put this into perspective, the NHS (the world’s fifth largest employer) employs 1.4 million. With an ageing population, the need for social care workers is increasing. Why don’t more young people choose a career in caring?

According to a Centre for Workforce Intelligence report, in 2009, the average age of a care worker in the independent sector was 40.6 years. The average age of a care worker starting in social care work was 33.6 years. These statistics highlight the attraction of care work to an older workforce and how important it is to bring in younger people as the future of the sector. We have previously looked at recruitment and retention for these traditional workers in an earlier blog. ‘Staff recruitment and retention: How to find more, and better frontline care applicants.’ and here, we’ll focus on the next generation.

A New Generation

A great way to get more young people into the industry is to offer apprenticeships for school leavers. These apprenticeships can involve a broad overview of the care sector, not just delivering care. Apprentices can work with schedulers, management and in administration. 74% of social care jobs involve direct care, the remaining 26% include managerial, supervisory and administrative roles.

Those that do deliver care have suggested that the best part of their job is that they believe their work makes a difference. For 16-18 year olds looking at future career options, this benefit could be more widely publicised. If more young people believed that working in care was so rewarding, it would be seen as a more desirable option. However, due to lack of employer investment, this is rarely the case. Funding could be made available by local authorities to providers to encourage them to take on apprentices.

Retention

Retention is a key issue in social care – 24% of workers leave within a year. Although there are a variety of reasons for this high turnover, low pay and opportunities in other sectors are factors. The constant pay freezes and budget cuts have some people concerned. The feeling is the profession is not a secure one and this is reflected in the number of school leavers who are not choosing caring as a career. Recruiting staff with the right values for work in social care is important in this retention process. Value based recruitment tools can help identify these values in potential employees.

Organisations like Skills for Care exist to help employers and those looking for a career in social care. More employers should be taking advantage of this support to attract young, enthusiastic workers. To help develop their skills and investing in the future of social care workers. With the number of adults over 70 set to increase by 1 million by 2020, the sector will only continue to grow. This will require more staffing resource.  Creating strong links with schools and colleges now, to create pathways into apprenticeships and work. This will ensure a brighter future for new workers in the sector.

Technology and Training

With the focus on keeping people out of social care facilities and in their own homes as the ageing population increases, the need for people working in care will increase as we move towards the 2020 vision for personalised health and care. Care workers will need to embrace technology in order to deliver better, integrated care. Information will need to be held electronically in order to be shared with other care service and join up care. The future of care could also see workers fitting into more nursing-like roles, a development which would require a clear training and qualifications route.

Social Care – how to attract a new generation

Social media is the key communication tool of the millennial generation. Young people are living their lives online. Reaching out through this medium is a great way to connect with a potential workforce. There are many ways to target these groups but investing in advertising to specific groups with specific interests or those living in a certain area could be helpful. Less young people use LinkedIn but Facebook and Twitter are widely adopted by 16-18 year olds. These can work for spreading the message about recruitment opportunities. Even just having a presence on social media can keep you in the consciousness of the public who may choose to engage with you at any time.

Young people are the future of care. It’s important for every employee to feel involved with a company. To feel as though you are invested in their career. With a younger generation, this is vital for their confidence and development. To embrace the new generation and grow a new dynamic for your workforce.