The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a package of measures aimed at boosting the domestic care workforce in England, including a career pathway and new qualifications.
The launch of the Care Workforce Pathway will aim to provide a national structure for care workers to build and develop their careers.
The £75m package of measures also includes £53.9m in funding to support up to 37,000 individuals in direct adult social care roles to enrol on the new Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate qualification between June 2024 and March 2025.
More than £20m funding will also be made available to local authorities and adult social care providers for the training and supervising of new social work and nurse apprentices.
Meanwhile, a new digital leadership qualification will be aimed at equipping social care leaders and managers with skills to implement and use technology for the delivery of care.
In addition, the DHSC announced that an uplift to the Workforce Development Fund will expand access to learning and development.
Helen Whately, minister for social care, said: ‘These changes will give brilliant care workers the chance to develop rewarding careers in social care.
‘Our new career path and qualifications recognise social care as the skilled profession it is.’
The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate Qualification will be delivered in conjunction with Skills for Care. It will also be accredited, with the aim of ensuring it is recognised by employers when care workers move roles.
Oonagh Smyth, Skills for Care chief executive, said: ‘The announcement from DHSC about their plans for a workforce reform package is welcome as it includes the first version of the Care Workforce Pathway and the introduction of the Care Certificate Qualification, which are both projects which Skills for Care has consulted and supported on with the sector.
‘Both initiatives will encourage learning and development opportunities for people working in different care services as well as supporting with the recruitment and retention challenges which we know employers are continuing to face,’ Ms Smyth added.
Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing director for England, said the ‘significant vacancies’ in social care will only be filled by the government ‘valuing staff and boosting domestic recruitment’.
However, Ms Marquis warned that the DHSC’s plans will fail if they are not backed up by ‘new funding commitments, further detail and a comprehensive workforce plan’.
She said: ‘Right now, the turnover of nursing staff in the social care sector is three times higher than in the NHS, and the sector is being kept afloat by internationally recruited staff. This is not ethical or sustainable.
‘Whilst education and training are critical to solving the staffing crisis… ministers must also address poor pay and employment terms for nursing staff working in social care – at least matching the NHS agenda for change contract.’