After years of stagnation in workforce planning, social care
employers are slowly building up a toolkit with which to repair the
damage caused by the recruitment crisis. Some of these tools are
obvious if not always affordable, such as markedly better salary
structures for front-line workers. Others remain controversial,
such as performance-related pay. But one thing is certain: the more
tools there are in the kit, the more employers will be able to
develop workforce strategies tailored to their own needs.
It is all too easy to see new measures as threats rather than
opportunities. For example, the recruitment agency Reed Social Care
is offering bursaries to social work degree students in return for
a year-long commitment to work for the agency. But why shouldn’t
the public and voluntary sectors do the same? If other employers
merely view this as private sector poaching, they will miss an
opportunity to compete.
There will also be concern over new plans for less qualified care
workers. Will new workers be asked to take on tasks that ought to
be carried out by fully-fledged social workers? Of course, a
boundary has to be drawn, but much better to meet the challenge of
drawing it than to turn down an opportunity of meeting the
recruitment crisis with new ideas.