Annual report shows social care workforce is growing again

Skills for Care have published their annual report into the state of the adult social care workforce in England, and it reveals that it has started growing again but will continue to face challenges posed by an ageing population.

Adult social care workforce has started to grow again after dropping last year The Size and Structure of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England report is based on data from Skills for Care’s Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) and other sources for the period from April 2022 until March 2023.

The report shows that the number of filled posts in the sector increased by around 1% – or 20,000 workers – during the past year.

It comes after the workforce fell for the first time on record the previous year, with the number of filled posts dropping by around 4% or 60,000 workers.

Meanwhile, the new report also shows that the vacancy rate in the sector fell to 9.9%, or around 152,000 posts on any given day, compared to 10.6% (around 164,000 posts) in the previous year.

Adult social care workforce faces recruitment and retention challenges

The adult social care workforce faces issues of recruitment and retentionSkills for Care says that the sector continues to face recruitment and retention challenges and that some employers are turning to international recruitment to overcome this issue, with around 70,000 workers being recruited from abroad into direct care-providing roles.

Figures from the Home Office indicate that around 58,000 people received Skilled Worker visas as a result of adult social care being added to the Shortage Occupation List back in February 2022. Other international recruits will have arrived in the UK via other routes such as family permits.

In the independent sector, international recruitment has helped the rate of new starters increase from 32% to 34%, while the turnover rate decreased from 32% to 30%.

Data from the ASC-WDS suggests that the staff turnover rate for international recruits was around half that of workers recruited from within the UK.

Adult social care workforce bigger than other major workforces

Skills for Care has called for a sustainable plan for the adult social care workforceIn total, the adult social care workforce had an estimated 1.635 million filled posts in 2022-23, and these were filled by 1.52 million people. This equates to 5.2% of England’s total workforce and outnumbers the amount of people working in the NHS, schools or food or drink manufacturing.

When filled and vacant posts were taken into account, the total number of posts in the adult social care workforce in England numbered 1.79 million in 2022-23. This represents a rise of 0.5% from the year before.

The growing number of posts in adult social care serves to underline the long-term challenges facing the sector and its workforce.

Skills for Care advises that, if the workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population, the number of posts will need to increase by around 445,000 posts to around 2.23 million workers by 2035.

Sustainable plan needed for adult social care

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smyth, thanked workers in the adult social care sector “for the work that they do supporting people to live the lives they choose every day,” and said that it was “a very fulfilling career.”

She added:

“It is encouraging that the number of filled posts has gone up and the vacancy rate has come down. Nevertheless, the data shared by employers with our Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set still show significant pressure on them to find and keep people with the right values needed to work in care.

“It’s positive that we now have a workforce plan for the NHS, which recognises how health and social care are dependent on each other. Our data supports the case for a social care workforce plan, including consideration of terms and conditions to support social care roles to be competitive in local labour markets. This will help to make sure that we have enough people with the right skills in the right places to support people who draw on care and support now, and for future generations.

“Any workforce plan needs to involve a range of partners as social care is a large and diverse sector. Skills for Care is ready to work with local and national Government, employers, people who draw on care and support and our sector partners to help deliver a sustainable plan for the adult social care workforce.

“We’re hugely grateful to all the care providers who share their data with us, as this helps us to build a rich and accurate picture of what’s happening in the sector and identify and address the challenges it faces.”

Quality training for care workers

Training is key for ensuring the right people have the right skills to provide care and supportFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safetyfirst aidfire safetyfood safetymental healthhealth and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for care workers, such as Infection Control and Prevention, Safeguarding Adults, Duty of Care, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Person Centred Care and Support and many others.

Their course portfolio spans Care Certificate standardsmandatory training awards, clinical skillsspecial focus courses and training for supervisors and managers.

A Trainer at FRT, says:

“The adult social care workforce is vital for the country, and it needs to continue to grow.

“Quality training can help employers in the care sector with recruitment and retention and it will also help ensure that workers have the right skills and knowledge to provide high quality, safe, compassionate and person centred care and support to all those that need it most.”

For more information on the training provided by FRT, please call them on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to