Over half a million social care workers are expected to leave the sector by 2024, new data has revealed.
Research from Totaljobs and Care UK shows that one in three (37%) social carers plan to find a new career within the next five years. This equates over half a million workers potentially leaving the sector.
And these staff shortages may arrive sooner, as one fifth (20%) of social carers are already actively looking for roles elsewhere.
The survey of 400 social carers found that 51% are considering taking their transferable skills to a career in health care, while 43% plan to find a job in retail and 24% in hospitality.
Concerningly, their replacements could prove difficult to recruit, with two thirds of Britons stating that they wouldn’t ever consider a career in social care, citing concerns over low pay (42%), emotionally challenging work (41%) and perceptions of unappealing work (29%).
This is despite Totaljobs witnessing a 13% rise in applications for the social care sector this year.
The research sheds further light on the state of the social care sector considered to be in crisis according to three quarters (76%) of MPs in a recent independent poll.
Skills for Care also recently reported that the UK will need another 650,000 workers by 2035 to meet the increased need for care services as a result of the country’s ageing population, which will see one in five people over the age of 65 by 2030.
Totaljobs said demand for social carers is not being met, partly due to a lack of entry level talent. Most of Gen Z (56% of 16-25-year olds) wouldn’t consider a career in the sector, it found.
This could be due to a lack of awareness, as over half (53%) of Gen Z reported that teachers, parents or friends have never spoken to them about a career in social care.
For those in the sector, 70% of social carers believe colleagues are leaving the sector due to their working environment, and 80% argue that they are leaving due to pay.
Despite these challenges, nearly seven out of 10 (68%) social care workers would recommend a career in social care, making it clear that they value their work.
Most social carers (81%) who plan to stay in the sector are also proud of the work they do, naming the best bits about working in the sector as building relationships with those they care for (60%) and being able to give back to society (58%).
This indicates that many social carers would be keen to stay in the sector if improvements were made.
Social carers outlined the following actions that could enhance their careers:
1. Feeling more valued by their employer (59%)
2. An increase in salary (51%)
3. Greater support from management (46%)
4. Strong leadership (42%)
5. Greater career progression (41%)
6. More training and development opportunities (40%)
7. More flexible working hours (37%)
8. Reduced stress (35%)
9. Job security and stability (31%)
10. Funded qualification (28%)
Alexandra Sydney, Director at Totaljobs commented: “Despite the challenges they face, most of those who plan to stay in the sector say they’re proud of the work they do. Employers should promote this passion to attract entry-level talent into the sector. Generation Z are known for being driven by careers with purpose, but very few have considered a career in social care.
“By building awareness and consideration among those entering the workforce, employers have the opportunity to tap into a goldmine of talent, future-proof the sector and ensure people get the care they need.”
Care UK’s Director of HR, Leah Queripel said: “This is a very thought-provoking piece of research and many of the findings back up what we have heard from potential recruits in the past. Using this knowledge, we have, in the past few years, put a great deal of investment into making us the employer of choice for people who want to work in social care. In particular, our focus on allowing each colleague to develop new skills and creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to work their way up a career ladder if they so choose.
“As a result, we have many examples of senior colleagues including home managers and regional directors who started as carers and, after taking advantage of the leadership training on offer, have moved into well-paid senior positions with us.”