New research reveals third of jobseekers considering career in social care following pandemic

A study finds that the pandemic has significantly improved people’s perceptions of working in the sector, but the risk of high levels of staff churn persists.

25/05/21

New research reveals third of jobseekers considering career in social care following pandemic

Applications to social care jobs have increased as a new report finds that the pandemic has significantly improved people’s perceptions of working in the sector.

The comprehensive study from the Work Foundation and Totaljobs shows that a new-found appreciation for carers could help improve the sector’s longstanding worker shortage, with 31% of UK jobseekers considering a job in the sector.

However, it finds there is a risk that the sector will continue to be characterised by high levels of staff churn, with one in seven (14%) current social care workers actively looking for a new role outside the industry as it faces new challenges.

Data from Totaljobs comparing the first three months of 2020 and 2021 shows the number of applications to social care roles increased by 39% year-on-year. Alongside this, social care vacancies advertised on Totaljobs are up by 17% across the same period.

Younger candidates were most likely to be planning to pursue careers in care, with one in four (25%) 16 to 25-year-olds expecting to pursue a career in the sector in the near future, and nearly one in five (17%) of all jobseekers confirmed that they are likely to move into the sector in the near future.


Analysis of the data from 15,248 candidates across five major social care organisations shows that 56% of those moving into social care roles had come from a different sector in the last two years. One in five (19%) of those moving into the sector came from customer service, retail and sales backgrounds, whilst 7% moved from catering.

Over half (52%) of people in the UK say their view of social care work has become more positive following the pandemic, however only 16% of people said Government recruitment campaigns shaped their view of the sector.

The report also highlights the extent to which the pandemic has impacted care workers’ wellbeing. When asked about their experience of working in the last year, two-fifths of social care workers (41%) reported an increased workload during the pandemic, and almost one third (30%) had to make up hours for colleagues who were self-isolating.

The pressure the pandemic placed on the social care sector also resulted in 19% of staff not being able to take annual leave to maintain the staff numbers needed over the last year.

For those currently looking to leave the sector, half (51%) flag that higher pay is a key motivation, followed by not feeling valued by their current employer (50%), the need for a less stressful working environment (46%) and a lack progression routes in their current role (42%).

When asked what would encourage them to stay in the care sector, a manageable workload is one key factor. Nearly half (49%) of respondents currently looking to leave said that having enough staff to cover the work needed would motivate them to stay. Social carers also note that feeling valued by their employer (55%) and opportunities for career progression (40%) would make them more likely to continue a career in care.

Ben Harrison, Director at The Work Foundation, said poor pay, limited options for progression and challenging working conditions have driven significant staff shortages for too long.

“The research highlights the window of opportunity we now have to tackle these issues, as more people than ever – including higher numbers of young people – are looking at social care as a viable career option.”

“The Government made a welcome commitment in its 2019 manifesto to deliver long-term reform for social care. As it does so in the months to come, this has to involve a sustainable funding programme, alongside a comprehensive workforce strategy that engages directly with providers and workers alike, and puts issues like pay, progression and workforce wellbeing at its heart.”

Read the new report ‘Social care: a guide to attracting and retaining a thriving workforce': http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/work-foundation/publications/social-care

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