The adult social care staff turnover rate has risen for the sixth year running, with lack of training and qualifications and zero-hours contracts among factors driving workers to leave, a new report has found.
Skills for Care’s annual report on the state of the workforce found turnover among directly-employed staff (excluding personal assistants) had risen from 23.1% in 2012-13 to 32.2% in 2018-19. Turnover was highest among care workers, at 39.5%, and this group had also experienced the highest increase since 2012-13, at 11.1 percentage points.
According to the report, staff were more likely to leave their role if they were younger, relatively inexperienced, lower paid, had higher rates of sickness and were on a zero-hours contract.
Impact of lack of training
It also found higher turnover rates among staff without a qualification and those who had had less training. The turnover rate among staff who had had recorded training during the year was 28.2% compared with 33% for those who had not, while the more training a person had had the less likely they were to leave their jobs. Of staff who had a relevant social care qualification, turnover was 21.6%, compared with 30% of those without such a qualification.
The report also showed that half the workforce (excluding registered professionals, such as social workers) had no relevant social care qualifications. Of this group, almost a half had not engaged with the care certificate, which sets introductory standards for staff, while one-fifth had not had any induction.
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea described these findings as “shocking”, adding that they would have “a clear impact on the level of care delivered”.
Skills for Care also found that turnover rates were 6.9 percentage points higher for care workers on zero-hours contracts, at 31.8%, compared to those with specified contracted hours, with an even bigger gap among residential care staff, where the turnover rate for those on zero-hours contracts was 39.1%
Around a quarter of the workforce were recorded as being employed on zero-hours contracts, equating to 370,000 jobs, a proportion that has remained relatively stable since 2012-13, though among domiciliary care workers 57% were on zero hours.
Call to eradicate zero-hours contracts
McAnea said the findings on zero-hours contracts came as no surprise, calling for their eradication.
“Zero-hours contracts might work for some people but they almost always mean precarious employment, with no certainty of income for workers and few employment rights. The ‘flexibility’ is weighted firmly in the employer’s favour,” she said.
The report also found care workers aged 20 and younger had the highest turnover rate by age (43.7%), suggesting that this was because younger workers took social care jobs while studying or waiting for a job in their preferred job sector. Typically, younger workers were more likely to be in lower-skilled and lower-paid roles, both of which were also factors behind higher turnover rates, it said.
Turnover rates gradually decreased as care workers approached retirement age, with those aged 60 and over having a turnover rate of 20.2%.
McAnea said the high turnover rate of young care workers wasn’t surprising.
“Care work is extremely demanding and young people can earn the same – and often more – working in other sectors like retail,” she said.
She added: “Jobs in the care sector must be made more attractive, with pay that recognises the skill in delivering complex care in challenging settings, levels of responsibility, quality training and a clearly defined career structure/pathway from social care apprentices to care home managers.
“Without this we will continue to struggle to recruit young people and hold on to trained staff to deliver quality care.”
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