The social care sector is under-prepared for next year’s launch of the new qualifications and credit framework (QCF), experts told yesterday’s annual Skills for Care conference.
The framework, a streamlined structure for recognising and accrediting all vocational qualifications across all sectors, comes into effect in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2010.
Skills for Care is developing a new set of social care qualifications conforming to the QCF. However, at the adult care skills council’s annual conference in London yesterday, speakers raised concerns about the readiness of employers to adapt to the reforms.
Sector not prepared
Des Kelly, executive director of the National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit health and social care providers across the UK, said: “I don’t think the sector is prepared for the QCF. [Employers] might know that the new structure is on its way but I’m not sure that they fully understand it.
“My impression from going around the country is that people are overwhelmed by a major programme of transformation and change. People are shell-shocked.”
Ronald Morton, strategy manager for the Commission for Social Care Inspection, agreed that there was “fatigue” in the sector at having to implement more and more initiatives requiring further resources.
Jacqui Ramus, chair of the Association for Care Training and Assessment Networks, which represents social care training providers, said she attended a recent conference where some employers were very knowledgeable about the QCF, but others “knew very little”.
Help on hand
Glen Mason, director of social care leadership and performance at the Department of Health, agreed that the sector was going through a period of “enormous change”, but reminded employers that help was available.
“I would stress the importance of the regional Skills for Care partnerships, which can help employers to unpack the tools and benefit from them.”
Skills for Care chair Professor David Croisdale-Appleby told the conference that there were three aims of the QCF: “To be less bureaucratic, to be easier to understand, and crucially, to be more responsive to the needs of employers, and to better reflect what their staff actually do.”