In its most recent workforce survey, the Local Government Association found that 14% of English authorities reported problems recruiting home care workers, with the problem worst in shire counties, where that figure more than doubled to 32%. Difficulties were also reported with finding community support workers.
Many directors believe the recession will encourage more people to consider social care, potentially enabling the sector’s recent improvement in recruitment and retention performance to continue.
Sarah Pickup, resources lead for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said that at a time when other work options were becoming more scarce opportunities in social care would remain.
“We can advertise the fact that we’ve got jobs on offer with NVQ training, and because of the downturn they will probably have more appeal,” she said.
Margaret Whellans, director of adult social services at Gateshead Council, said the retail and tourism sectors traditionally appealed to people who could be recruited into the semi-skilled social care workforce but these were unlikely to be growth areas in the near future.
“There’s a real opportunity for us to attract people,” she said.
She added that the north-east region was developing a social care workforce strategy to develop clearer career paths and to introduce more stability and aspiration to the industry.
“We’re looking at apprenticeships and a whole range of work to encourage more people into social care,” she said.
The declining economic situation could also bring positive developments for children’s services.
Graham Tombs, director of children’s services at Essex County Council, said he believed more families would consider fostering as a way to both share their expertise and help family finances.