Implications of labour markets for the social care workforce: report
Independent research on the influence of national and local labour markets on the social care sector.
6 Social Care Workforce Movement
- SSSC analysis indicates that the stability index within registered social care employees is around 71% meaning that the majority of people remained in the same position between 2016 and 2017.
- Of those who did move, some can be accounted for by movement within the sector (including career progression) meaning that the sector has retained the skills and experience of these workers.
- Some of this can be accounted for by movement within the sector (including career progression) meaning that the sector has retained the skills and experience of these workers.
- People who change jobs within the social care sector tend to join a similar service type, and the SSSC analysis also suggests there is a strong tendency for people to remain in the same type of service, for example adult or children’s service. The survey reported a slightly greater propensity for staff to move from adult to children's services, but it is still more likely that adult services social care staff will remain in this sub-sector.
- The main exchange of social care employees is with the business services and health and education sectors. The latter reflects the many synergies between these sectors in terms of skills and experience needed by the workforce.
- One in ten social care employees indicate they would like to leave the sector in the future. This is mainly due to the stress and workload of their current job.
- The sector faces competition from the health, hospitality, retail, education and cleaning sectors, reflecting that people appear to be attracted to work opportunities in what they consider to be less demanding jobs for the same or a better rate of pay.
6.1 This chapter considers the extent to which the social care workforce moves internally (i.e., between different parts of the sector) and externally, which looks at the dynamics of the wider labour market in Scotland. The analysis also sets out the future intentions of both employers and employees working in the social care sector in Scotland. It draws on survey evidence as to what competition the sector is likely to face in the future in terms of other sectors in Scotland. This section also draws upon findings from the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) section of the survey. Further evidence can be found in the separate paper on the ELC workforce.
Internal workforce movement
6.2 As Figure 6.1 illustrates, just under half of social care employees surveyed worked elsewhere in the social care sector before their current job.
6.3 This is different to the findings from the PA research, where PAs were less likely to have previous relevant experience. Only 3% of PAs had previously worked as a PA for someone else, and 35% had come from elsewhere in the social care sector. Six in 10 (60%) PAs had come from a completely different job, higher than 47% for the social care sector as a whole. This supports anecdotal evidence from stakeholders that many PA employers tend to ask friends or neighbours to be their PAs.
Source: ekosgen employee survey, n=4,148
6.4 The survey asked employees who had worked in social care before their current job to indicate if their previous job was in adult or children’s services. No time limit was applied. This question aimed to establish the flow between the two types. As illustrated in Table 6.1, of those people who currently work in adult services, the vast majority (91%) have moved from another job in adult services, as opposed to coming from children’s services (6%) or ELC (3%). This indicates that people who work in adult services are very likely to remain working in adult services, and move around within it.
6.5 In children’s services, there is evidence of some more movement from adult to children’s services (29%), but it is still more likely that people move within children’s services, rather than from adult services to children’s services – 62% (and 71% if ELC is included). The evidence indicates that where people do move from one to the other, it is more likely to be from adult to children’s rather than the other way round. At 88%, the majority of people working in ELC who had moved into their current role had moved from a previous ELC job.
6.6 These findings largely reflect the findings of the SSSC report on workforce movement, where the analysis indicated that 94% of workers in adult services who re-registered returned to an adult’s service compared with 90% of children’s workers. However the SSSC analysis did not include care at home and housing support services, which is the largest sub-sector in adult social care. Another point of difference is that the SSSC survey looked at the movement of staff within one year, whilst our survey is not time limited in the same way.
|Current job/ previous job||Came from adult services||Came from children’s services||Came from ELC|
|Currently working in adult services||91%||6%||3%|
|Currently working in children’s services||29%||62%||9%|
|Currently working in ELC||8%||4%||88%|
Source: ekosgen employee survey. ELC n=1,232, children’s services n=232, adult services n=1,251
6.7 The majority (78%) of those intending to move to a role associated with children’s services in the future are leaving a current children’s services role. It is interesting to note, however, that 65% of this group currently work in either independent or third sector services, which is higher than their corresponding share of the survey sample (58%). This suggests that children’s services employees may not be wanting to move to take up different types of children’s services roles, but rather are looking to move from the independent or third sector to the public sector for better pay and conditions, or perhaps a more secure job.
The wider labour market
6.8 Just under half of social care employees surveyed worked in a completely different sector before their current job, as shown in Figure 6.1. One in five of those worked in office-based roles, with a further 19% previously employed in retail jobs. The survey did not attempt to quantify the number of people who may be working in multiple jobs of which social care may be one.
6.9 Social care employers report a small proportion of staff leaving to work in other sectors. Only 11% of employers report that when staff leave to move into another job, more than half will take up completely different jobs. This chimes with a previous finding that suggests approximately half of all people who leave the SSSC Register continue to work in the social service sector. Approximately 23% of all leavers were working in other sectors.
6.10 Employers identified the health sector as being the most likely competition for staff as illustrated in Figure 6.2. Hotels and hospitality roles were the second biggest source of competition for employers in mainly rural areas. Retail and cleaning jobs were also contenders when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff, and supporting this the SSSC survey of leavers places retail in the top three sectors that social care loses staff to. When education sectors (other and classroom assistants) are combined, this also presents significant competition for the social care sector, particularly in mainly rural areas. The following comments from employers illustrate what made these types of roles competitive with the social care sector:
“A range of benefits depending on actual employer, including salary, Local Authorities pay more, no pay increase in Third Sector, flexible working, and job security (we are on a rolling annual contract)” (third sector, urban adult fieldwork service employer)
“Less overall responsibility, the ability to leave work at work, more flexible working patterns, no overnight working / more social working hours, higher salary” (third sector, urban/rural housing support/ care at home employer)
Source: ekosgen employer survey, multiple responses allowed, All n=537, Mainly urban n=227, Mixture n=190, Mainly rural n=113
Employee future ambitions
6.11 More than three quarters (79%) of the current social care workforce want to remain working within the sector. As shown in Figure 6.3, of this group, 41% want to remain in the same job, 27% want to gain a promotion in the same service they are currently working in, and 11% wish to move to a different area of social care.
Source: ekosgen employee survey, n=3,908
6.12 Future intentions differ little by geography of respondent. As shown at Figure 6.4, the key differences are that those working in more rural areas are more likely to want to stay in the same job in the future. Those working in larger cities are less likely to want to do so, at 36% compared to 41% for all employees. This may reflect the greater access to employment opportunities and career progression felt by those in an urban setting, as shown in Chapter 5.
Source: ekosgen employee survey, Larger cities n=1,325, Urban with rural n=1,564, Mainly rural n=1,263, Islands and remote n=157
Those who want to stay in social care
6.13 Employees who moved into social care from a different sector are less likely to state a preference to stay in the sector. Of the overall survey sample, 79% of the social care workforce wants to stay in the sector in the future, and this varies a little by previous experience. Those who previously worked in a different sector are slightly less likely to want to stay in social care in the future (78%) than those who previously worked elsewhere in social care (80%) and those in their first job (85%).
6.14 Again there is little difference by sub-sector, although those working in adult services are less likely to want to stay in social care (78%) than employees from children’s services (82%).
6.15 One in 10 (11%) of the social care workforce would like to move into a different area of social care in the future from the one they are currently working in. Adult services was more popular, with 82% of this group wanting to move to an area of adult services and 48% wanting to move to an area of children’s services (respondents could pick more than one service). When looking at the respondent’s current area of work, a picture which emerges that adult services employees tend to want to remain in some part of adult services, while children’s service workers are much more split. These findings are tentative and this section has already identified a number of caveats. For example, we’re not sure about when these workers have switched roles. The key message is that we require a better understanding of the movement of workers across children’s and adult service and the dynamics behind that.
- Of those currently working in children’s services who want to move to a different area of social care:
- Over eight in 10 (82%) want to move elsewhere in children’s services
- Two thirds (68%) want to move to an area of adult services
- Of those currently working in adult services who want to move to a different area of social care:
- Almost all (95%) want to move elsewhere in adult services
- Under half (44%) want to move to an area of children’s services
Those who want to leave social care
6.16 One in 10 (10%) employees would like to leave the social care sector in the future, and for many this is due to the stress and pressure of their current job. Scottish Care has undertaken research that shows that there is significant pressure on the mental health of the workforce employed by their member service providers. Their report suggests that more and more demands are being placed on social care services and the workforce whilst the foundations of support and resilience are being eroded by cuts and the approach to planning and commissioning care. Their report suggests this is creating instability amongst services and in the mental wellbeing of care staff.
6.17 Figure 4.8 reports on the perceptions of all employees in the survey of why people may want to leave the social care workforce. To add more detail to our understanding, the survey identified a cohort of 418 respondents who currently work in social care and intend to leave. It then asked them the reasons why they intend to leave the sector and Figure 6.5 sets out the findings. It shows that work-related pressure and a lack of work-life balance are the main drivers. Scottish Care have previously identified the need to explore how we can better support staff to undertake their role. The following comment from our survey of employees reinforces this:
“Most care homes work on twelve hour shift rotas. When you are working with people with advanced dementia, stress levels are increased greatly on long shifts and mistakes are made, due to mental fatigue.” (third sector, urban housing support/ care at home employee)
6.18 The high level of movement within the current care workforce may have an impact on service delivery and continuity of care. Given that almost two thirds (65%) of all social care employers surveyed are currently recruiting (with a quarter reporting hard to fill vacancies), this might indicate that employers are struggling to find, recruit and retain suitable people to the sector.
6.19 Other reasons for wanting to leave included employees not feeling valued enough, not feeling as though there is enough career progression available, and poor leadership.
Source: ekosgen employee survey, n=418
6.20 Of those employees who have ambitions to leave the social care sector in the future, they report a wider range of job types of interest. Health, education and business services are the main sectors that attract social care employees who want to leave for a career change. As shown at Figure 6.6, around one in five (21%) of social care workers who want a career change are interested in moving into the business services sector. Smaller proportions of potential career changers would like to move into the health sector (13%), and education sector (11%), although this is more as teachers, rather than classroom assistants (3%). These findings are different to those reported by the SSSC analysis of people who have left the SSSC register where the main destinations were education (25%), retail (15%) and health (15%).
Source: ekosgen employee survey. Social care n=117
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