The first ever skills academy for social care is set to open in March 2009 after the government approved a bid by a sector-led consortium.
The national centre of excellence will aid the development of an estimated 58,000 learners to adult care services in its first few years.
Skills secretary John Denham gave the go-ahead to the group, led by the Social Care Institute for Excellence, with the task of building “a world-beating workforce”.
It will receive funding of £2m-£3.5m from the Department of Health, and £1.5m from the Learning and Skills Council over the next three years. Employers are expected to match this with an equivalent sum.
The consortium says the academy will focus on improving leadership skills and helping small and medium-sized providers with limited training and development budgets.
It will offer provision to 14-19 year olds as well as adults, and access for England’s 35,000 social care employers to online resources and a directory of accredited training providers, while a kite-mark for training courses will be developed.
The consortium, which also includes Skills for Care and employers’ bodies such as the Local Government Association, now has to submit a business plan. Subject to this being approved by an independent panel, the centre will open on 30 March 2009.
The announcement was welcomed by Ian Johnston, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, who said: “The new academy will raise the profile of social work and social care and promote the high quality services that all citizens are entitled to expect at times of need.”
The Department of Health’s director of social care leadership and performance, Glen Mason, echoed this view, adding: “The Department of Health is delighted to be providing £2m to support this work.”
England’s adult social care workforce of 1.5 million, 70% of whom work in the private or voluntary sectors, is expected to rise to 2.5 million by 2020, to keep pace with demographic changes such as an ageing population, according to Scie.
The government’s Putting People First initiative, which is introducing personal budgets to service users over the next three years, requires local workforce development strategies to be implemented “across all sectors”.
National Skills Academy Network – official website
Social care skills academy – information on the Department of Health website