Demand for Carers will Rise but may Cause Labour Shortage

The United Kingdom will need more care workers, but a new report says a shortage in the care workforce looms as young people shun care jobs.

The report (Sector insights: skills and performance challenges in the health and social care sector) was released by UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) last May 28.

There are about 1.5 million care workers across UK as of the moment, but UKCES said increasing demand will require an additional 500,000 workers by 2022. UKCES said that the expected growth in the care sector’s workforce, which is at 27%, is the biggest in any industry.

The report also said that there is a pressing need for the care industry to hire more young workers as the mean age of care staff today is 50 to 65 years old and many care workers are expected to retire during the following 15 years.

Despite the growing demand, UKCES said the care sector may experience labour shortage because many young people are not interested in pursuing careers in the industry.

The report said the career path in the care sector is limited and there is no alternative for staff who do not want to progress to managerial positions. Openings for senior care staff positions for carers who wish to remain in the industry for the long-term are also minimal. Furthermore, young carers are attracted to positions in the NHS because of their perception that the agency provides better pay, benefits and career progression.

UKCES also cited several factors that hinder interest among the youth, including, negative conception of care work, zero-hours contracts, low salary, lesser time to spend with patients, and lack of investment in specialisation training.

To prevent serious staff shortage, UKCES is calling for heightened qualifications for entry level positions, increased opportunities for career advancement in the care sector, and more career flexibility that will permit carers to jump between social care and healthcare positions.   

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