Training key to retaining care staff

Skills for Care has published its annual report into the state of the adult social care sector, and it reveals key factors for retaining care staff, including access to training and development.

Skills for Care have published the State of Care Report, which reveals the key factors needed to retain care staffThe annual State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England report covers the period from April 2022 to March 2023.

Skills for Care published the report today (12th October 2023), and it shows some improvements in the capacity of the social care workforce, with more posts being filled, fewer vacancies and a lower turnover rate for care staff.

The national care workforce development charity says these improvements have been largely driven by international recruitment efforts.

Retention of care staff driven by 5 key factors

Skills for Care are developing a comprehensive workforce strategy to support adult social care staff now and in the futureDespite this, 390,000 care workers left their jobs during the 12 months covered by the report, with around a third of these leaving social care altogether, highlighting a “leaky bucket” problem faced by the sector.

With staff retention still an issue, then, its crucial that the report offers some new insight into the factors that help to persuade people to remain working in adult social care.

Skills for Care have identified 5 factors that are key to retaining care staff, and these are:

  • Being paid more than the minimum wage
  • Not being on a zero-hours contract
  • Having the opportunity to work full-time
  • Being able to access training
  • Having a relevant qualification

If none of the above factors apply, care workers are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs than when all 5 factors apply. This equated to a 48.7 turnover rate compared to a 20.6% rate.

Key findings from the State of Care Report

The report’s other key findings include:

  • The adult social care workforce grew by 1% after shrinking for the first time on record the previous year
  • The vacancy rate fell from 10.6% in 2021-22 to 9.9% – equating to around 152,000 vacancies on any given day. What’s more, monthly tracking beyond March suggests that the vacancy rate in the sector has continued to fall, reaching 8.4% in August among independent care sector providers. In independent sector care homes, the vacancy rate fell to 5.1% – below pre-pandemic levels (it was 5.5% in 2019-20)
  • The number of registered nurse filled posts increased by 2% to 33,000
  • An estimated 70,000 people arrived in the UK and started direct care providing roles in the independent sector during 2022-23
  • Projections suggest that the workforce will need to grow by 25%, or 440,000 posts, by 2035 in order to meet the needs of an ageing population

The report also revealed the composition of the adult social care workforce and the fact that, for the first time, the proportion of men working in the sector increased from 18% to 19%.

Meanwhile, the sector continues to struggle to attract younger workers, with only 8% of care staff being under the age of 25, which compares to 12% of the economically active population.

New workforce strategy for care staff

The new workforce strategy for care staff will complement the NHS Long Term PlanEach year, the adult social care sector contributes more to the country’s economy than the accommodation or food service industries. Last year, it added a massive £55.7 billion.

Skills for Care aims to support this vital sector with a new and comprehensive workforce strategy.

The workforce development body plans to work with a wide range of organisations and stakeholders to develop the strategy, which will set out a plan for ensuring the social care sector has enough of the right people, with the right skills in the right roles.

Skills for Care says the new workforce strategy will help employers and commissioners with workforce planning and will also support the government’s social care reform agenda, while complementing the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, which was published earlier this year.

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smyth, said their State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce report revealed welcome “green shoots” but the that the challenges faced by the sector still remain.

She explained:

“In particular, the fact that 390,000 people left their jobs in 2022/23 and around a third of them left the sector altogether shows that we have a leaky bucket that we urgently need to repair. We can’t simply recruit our way out of our retention challenges. So, we need a comprehensive workforce strategy to ensure we can both attract and keep enough people with the right skills to support everyone who draws on care and support – and all of us who will draw on care and support in the future.

“We’ll be using the expertise, data, insights and relationships we have developed over the last 20 years to develop that strategy. Given the rich diversity of the sector any strategy will only be successful if it’s created by the many organisations and people that have a stake in the future of social care, so we’ll be working with a wide range of partners who are willing to embrace and drive the changes we need.

“As always, we are grateful to all the employers who contribute their data to give us a very clear picture of what is happening in our sector, and what needs to happen to fully meet the needs of people who draw on care and support in our communities.”

Sir David Pearson, who is co-chairing the steering group for the strategy with Oonagh Smyth said that securing a “confident, capable and caring workforce, now and in the future,” was vital for social care.

Meanwhile, the CEO of NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, Rob Webster, commented:

“If you want to integrate care, you have to integrate the workforce. Having a long-term plan for staffing in social care is an essential part of the work that we need to do together to create the conditions for us to be successful. There are many fantastic careers in social care and by working together we can make sure that we have the people to fill them.”

Training essential for care staff

Training is vital for care staffFirst 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 higher level training for supervisors and managers.

A Trainer at FRT, says:

“The adult social care workforce do an amazing, invaluable job that requires a lot of hard work.

“It is crucial that these roles are filled by people who are able to provide compassionate, person centred and dignified care and support for those who need it. To do this, they need proper support and high-quality training.

“Training should be provided for all care workers upon induction and they should then have access to ongoing training and development opportunities throughout their career – both to refresh skills and knowledge and to advance their expertise.”

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