Public sector bodies should pay training costs

The money that social care charities spend on training staff to
meet higher regulatory standards should be paid by public sector
bodies that commission their services, delegates at Community
Live Scotland heard, writes Gordon Carson
from Edinburgh.

Romy Langeland, chief executive of Aberlour Child Care Trust,
said that if the Scottish executive wanted voluntary organisations
to deliver the same standards as the public sector, there was a
“clear implication that our staff will be qualified”
and would need more training.

“We need to build the costs of registration and continuing
professional development into the cost of services,” she

“We need to continue arguing for proper funding for the
qualifications of our workforce.”

She also pointed out that a better-qualified workforce would
have a knock-on effect on salaries.

“A lot of voluntary services have been provided at a lower
cost because staff salaries are low and this is not a sustainable
position,” she added. “There’s a risk this will
develop a two-tier system for service users.”

But Chris Warhurst, professor of labour studies and director of
the Scottish Centre for Employment Research at Strathclyde
University, questioned whether the Scottish executive or councils
should pick up charities’ training costs.

“Is that viable in the long-term?” he asked.
“The voluntary sector is being paid to deliver services, not
to develop the capacity to deliver services.”

He also urged social care charities to seek a competitive
advantage over private and public sector providers by promoting
their strong record on staff welfare.

“The public and private sector both say people are their
greatest asset but they lie,” he said. “People come way
down the list. The exception is the voluntary sector.”

He highlighted results of a project he carried out showing that
managers rated an organisation’s values as the most important
factor for joining social care charities in Scotland.

The most important factor for employees was the type of job, and
pay featured further down the list in both categories.

However, he said social care charities faced several major
challenges, including a “tight” labour market and a
lack of diversity in the workforce, if they were to overcome
recruitment problems

He also pointed out that pay was generally
“uncompetitive” in the sector. “Tesco pay better
than a lot of voluntary organisations and the work is a lot
easier,” he added.

And he highlighted that the public’s perceptions of the
voluntary sector were unfavourable, with many thinking it was
unpaid work and lacked professionalism.

Warhurst recommended that good social care charities should
concentrate on raising their own profile rather than that of the
sector as a whole.

“When Asda want to raise their profile they don’t
raise the profile of the supermarket sub-sector,” he said.
“They raise the profile of Asda.”


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