Vacancy rate falls among care providers

Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth

The staff vacancy rate among care providers has gradually dropped during the pandemic from 8.3% pre-Covid-19 to 6.6% in June.

A reduction in demand for services is likely to be a contributing factor for the decrease in vacancies, according to Skills for Care. Its survey data in May found that 46% of 110 employers were experiencing a decrease in demand, alongside evidence of falling occupancy rates in care homes. A quarter (26%) experienced an increase in demand.

Latest figures show the average number of days lost to sickness among care providers in England was 8% between March and June, compared to 2.4% pre-Covid-19.

In May, the government launched an online platform to fast-track recruitment into the adult social care sector. The platform, developed and licensed from Cera Care, allows candidates to record a video interview and access free training supported by Skills for Care before starting employment.

Skills for Care’s annual report, Size and structure of the adult social care workforce in England, 2020, which includes data collected before the height of the pandemic, said the number of sector jobs will need to grow by 520,000 to around 2.17 million by 2035 if the workforce increases proportionally to the projected amount of people aged 65 and over.

Since 2012/13, the number of jobs in the sector has risen by 9% or 130,000, to 1.65 million roles in 2019/20.

Over the same period the workforce has continued to shift away from local authority jobs (a decrease of 25%, or 37,000) and towards independent sector positions (a rise of 11%, or 130,000).

The number of jobs in domiciliary services has grown at a faster rate than those in residential care over the past seven years. There was an increase of 95,000 jobs (15%) in homecare, while residential services saw growth of 25,000 jobs (4%).

However, the rate of increase for adult social care jobs has slowed, the report said. Between 2014/15 and 2019/20, the workforce grew by around 15,000 jobs per year compared to an average increase of 26,000 jobs per year between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

Registered nurses were one of the only jobs in the sector to see a significant decrease over the period down 15,500, or 30% since 2012/13.

Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth said: ‘This report is a reminder of the vital role our growing workforce will play in any future reform of our sector and their skills, knowledge and commitment to person centred care will support people to live the lives they want to.’

Its adult social care workforce data set is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and uses information supplied by 20,000 employers.

Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive, said: ‘This report makes it crystal clear that in the coming weeks and months, both providers and the adult social care workforce need to be prioritised as they remain at the frontline in combatting Covid-19. Furthermore, the trend of a shift away from local authority jobs towards independent sector jobs articulates the need for the independent sector to involved in the future development of adult social care.’