Government plans to improve career prospects for care workforce

  • For the first time there will be a national care career structure, with defined roles and professional development
  • A new, accredited qualification will be introduced to help recognise the work being done by 37,000 workers
  • Funding for hundreds of apprenticeships and digital training to embrace the latest technology also included

Social care staff will have better training, clearer career paths and improved job prospects thanks to government plans to develop the domestic care workforce, set out today.

The Department of Health and Social Care has unveiled a package of measures that will reaffirm care work as a career, helping to recruit and retain talent by providing new, accredited qualifications, digital training and funded apprenticeships.

The reforms are underpinned by a new career pathway for care workers; the first time this has been brought together in a single place for care staff to use, to build and develop their careers. It will support people to gain the right knowledge, skills and expertise needed to deliver excellent care, giving clear differentiation between roles based on the level of expertise people should have and expect to develop.

Backed by £75million in funding, the announcement comes in the week the government also started the second phase of the Made with Care recruitment campaign, aimed at getting more people in the UK to consider a rewarding career in care.

Minister for Social Care, Helen Whately, said:

“The workforce is the heartbeat of the social care sector and staff should be given the recognition and opportunities they deserve. These changes will give brilliant care workers the chance to develop rewarding careers in social care.

“There are also many talented people across the country who would thrive in care work but haven’t seen it as a career choice. We’re changing that; our new career path and qualifications recognise social care as the skilled profession it is.”

Turnover of staff is lower where there is access to learning opportunities to gain skills and qualifications according to social care workforce development body, Skills for Care. Investing in better training and supporting staff to develop their careers will act as an incentive for people to join or stay in the workforce.

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 £50 million 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 £20 million 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.

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate Qualification will be delivered in conjunction with Skills for Care and launch in June, backed by an investment of £53.9 million. The qualification will be accredited to ensure its quality and will be recognised by employers when care workers move roles, reducing the costs and burden of repeat training.

We will also be introducing a new digital leadership qualification which will help ensure that digital skills are embedded in core training and further support career development.

Skills for Care CEO, Oonagh Smyth, said:

“The announcement from DHSC about their plans for a workforce reform package is welcome as it includes the first version of the Care Workforce Pathway and the introduction of the Care Certificate Qualification, which are both projects which Skills for Care has consulted and supported on with the sector.

“Building on, and following on from, the Call for Evidence last year, the first phase of development is now complete. The DHSC and Skills for Care partnership benefited from invaluable support and collaboration with TLAP who developed the underpinning values, BILD who developed the Practice Leadership role, the Expert Consultation Group who informed the development throughout and of course, members of the adult social care sector, including the workforce and people who draw on care and support, who generously gave their time and insight.

“Both initiatives will encourage learning and development opportunities for people working in different care services as well as supporting with the recruitment and retention challenges which we know employers are continuing to face. I look forward to seeing the impact this package can have for people working in care this year and beyond.”

The launch of the Care Workforce Pathway in partnership with Skills for Care, is intended to ensure the adult social care workforce is recognised as the professional workforce it is, to improve people’s perception and experience of a career in care.

Meanwhile, the workforce development element will fund around 116,000 training courses and qualifications, 34,000 Care Certificate qualifications from June 2024 to the end March 2025 and continuous professional development for around 35,000 eligible professionals. 

Creating career paths and qualifications in the care system aims, in the long-term, to support the domestic workforce so we can strike the right balance between ethical international recruitment and filling vacancies with staff based in the UK, following the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s recently announced plan to curb abuse of the visa system.

We’re also supporting local authorities to expand the workforce with almost £2 billion over two years as part of the Market Sustainability Improvement Fund and in addition, councils will benefit from a new investment to help recruitment of social work and nurse apprentices into adult social care. This will allow local authorities and care providers to apply for a contribution towards the costs of training and supervising new social work and nurse apprentices.