Workers “don’t want” social care jobs

Shortages in social care occur primarily because many workers do not want these jobs, rather than because there is no-one qualified to do them, the Migration Advisory Committee has said in its full review of the Shortage Occupation List.

It concludes that a dedicated work route to employ migrants in social care could, at best, “be a short-term fix” and would perpetuate the poor terms and conditions that are the underlying cause of the shortages in social care. It says: “The sector may be able to recruit migrants under a dedicated scheme but is likely to struggle to retain them when migrants are free to take other jobs.”

Looking at terms and conditions in the sector, the report notes that 12.8 per cent of workers aged 25 and over in social care were covered by the National Minimum/National Living Wage (NWM/NLW), compared to 6.5 per cent in the labour market as a whole, and that one in four English adult social care workers are on zero-hours contracts.  It adds that “it is not clear how much [Better Care] funding has helped local authorities increase the rates they pay to social care providers.”

The report recommends that the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper on Social Care could provides more clarity on the future of Social Care in the UK and contains concrete proposals to improve terms and conditions in social care. The report notes: “Given the limited potential for labour-saving innovations in this area, it is likely that employment in social care will continue to grow.”

Other key findings:

  • 76,000 out of 110,000 vacancies in the English adult social care sector relate to care workers
  • Figures for the EU settlement scheme show that since opening (28 August 2018) there have been 573,600 applications in England, 31,400 in Scotland, 9,300 in Wales and 6,500 in Northern Ireland. Most applications come from Polish nationals, followed by those from Romania, Italy, Portugal and Spain
  • EU nationals’ share of the English adult social care workforce increased three percentage points to 8 per cent in 2017/18, while non-EU nationals’ share fell by the same amount to 10 per cent over the same period
  • In England since 2012 there has been an 18 per cent decline in the number of social care-registered nurse numbers.
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