Career Clinic

Q: I am currently looking for agency work, what approach should I take considering the difficult economic climate?

A: This is an interesting question because an economic downturn can be a worrying situation for staff, but at the same time, it can offer interesting job opportunities. In the wider economy agency workers are often the first employees considered when companies are looking to cut costs in the face of a downturn. Conversely, agency workers are often the preferred option when replacing or taking on new staff if budgets are restricted; and are often relied upon when things start to pick up and organisations realise they do not have sufficient numbers of permanent employees to cope with the increased workload.
However, the health and social care sector generally behaves very differently from the wider economy in a downturn, partly due to the high degree of public sector funding involved, but also as a result of the nature of the market itself. The support provided by this sector is even more in demand as a result of the crisis. Indeed, we have continued to see ever-rising demand for skilled and qualified temporary and permanent staff, coupled with an ongoing shortage of staff available for these roles.

We are therefore confident that the current downturn is unlikely to dampen demand significantly and that opportunities for temporary workers will remain strong. By applying for temporary roles you will increase your employability and will be able to move quickly from one position to another if an employer does cut back for financial reasons.

Another key factor to consider at this time is ensuring that you go through a financially strong agency. Recruitment agencies can also suffer in a downturn, and the last thing you want is to not get paid because your agency is having cashflow problems. Therefore, look into your agency’s state of health and whether it is really a specialist in the market. We would also suggest being wary of all new start-ups for this reason.

At the beginning of the new year many people decide they would like a new challenge, so it is a good idea to become registered as soon as possible to take advantage of the best opportunities as they arise.

Richard Smith is health and social care director with social care recruitment company Beresford Blake Thomas

29 January QUESTION

I am a psychology graduate but would like to become a social worker or youth worker. I am considering embarking on a social work masters course but want to know more about what career options this would open up before committing myself. Also, are there work experience placements on the masters courses? Kate, West Cornwall

We will answer this question in the 29 January issue of Community Care. We want to publish readers’ advice too – send it to by 22 January.

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