Major staffing shortfall predicted for health and social care

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A new report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) underlines the imminent shortfall the health and social care services sector faces in staffing levels by 2022.

The report, ‘Skills and performance challenges in the health and social care sector’, sets out to examine the specific challenges faced and identify the major trends affecting skills demands. It also investigates employer perceptions of skills challenges in specific occupations and employer awareness of, engagement with and interest in National Occupational Standards (NOS).

The alarming picture is that between now and 2022 the NHS will need to train and recruit a flow of new workers that is equivalent to more than half of the existing workforce.

In 2012, some 3.2 million people were employed in one of 36 occupations identified across the health and social care sector. This is expected to increase to 3.9 million by 2022, making health and social care the UK’s largest employment sector. However, the combination of an ageing workforce and younger people leaving the sector as a result of limited career progression opportunities means that some 1.4 million employees are expected to leave and will need to be replaced. The report therefore estimates it will be necessary to recruit an estimated 2.1 million workers.

Changes in the sector, including structural reform, increasing demand but fewer resources and a move towards a more cohesive approach to service delivery by health and social care staff will open up opportunities, but also bring new challenges. The report predicts that existing occupations will expand beyond their current parameters and new roles will emerge to fill the gaps between the traditional health and social care professions. “Training structures, professional identities and regulation will need to adapt to facilitate such changes.”

The report makes several recommendations:

* Designing dual route training opportunities for new entrants to allow staff to pursue a health or social care path

* Sharing learning on recruitment and workforce planning to aid the delivery of personalised and integrated care

* Sharing learning on how to engage lower skilled workers in workplace learning

* Undertaking exploratory scenario planning to examined the future shape of health and social care support jobs

* Moving away from a narrowly-defined, task-orientated NOS and encouraging greater use of NOS by national and sector bodies when developing training across the sector.

 



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