National Care Service - adult social care workforce: evidence

This paper summarises the available evidence on the adult social care workforce in Scotland. It is part of a collection of contextual evidence papers, setting out key sources of information about social care and related areas in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Key findings

  • In 2020, there were 134,640 people employed in adult social care in Scotland, which is 5.7% higher than in 2011. This increase has been driven mainly by increases to the housing support/care at home sub-sector.
  • Eight out of ten (80%) adult social care staff in Scotland in 2020 were female, and 44% of workers were aged 45 and over. On average adult social care staff worked for 31 hours per week and the majority (86%) were employed on permanent contracts.
  • Brexit and Covid-19 are some of the recent factors that have impacted the adult social care workforce.
  • The social care sector had a very high vacancy rate of 43%, in comparison with 11% across all sectors in 2020. In particular, care at home, housing support, and care homes for older people reported that vacancies were hard to fill. The sector also has a qualifications gap, with only 52% of staff reported to hold qualifications suited to their role in 2020.
  • The private sector was the largest employer in adult social care in 2020, employing 44% of the workforce. The largest sub-sectors in adult social care were housing support/care at home and care homes for adults, employing 56% and 39% of the workforce respectively.
  • Projections suggest that Scotland is likely to have more older people and fewer younger people in mid-2045 than in mid-2020, which has implications for the supply of, and demand for, adult social care in the future.



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