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We work to ensure people working in care have the right skills, knowledge, competencies, values and behaviours to meet current and future needs in our communities. 

We do this by defining the knowledge, skills and capabilities needed now and in the future, developing and reviewing learning and development to fill the gaps, helping care providers and their staff to access training, and ensuring there's a vibrant learning market. 

 

Why is this important? 

We know that the people working in care and support roles are the sector’s biggest asset, and the dedication and skill of people working in the sector forms the foundation of high-quality social care. 

Population changes, the pandemic, and the loss of experienced staff all have a bearing on the changing skills needs of the sector. 

The proportion of the overall workforce with a relevant social care qualification has been steadily decreasing since 2017 to around 42% (source: ASC-WDS).  

Increased workforce development in adult social care will drive improvements in care quality, staff retention and workforce productivity. 

 

Reviewing and developing learning 

The Care Certificate sets out fundamental skills needed to work competently in health and social care. 

We helped to review the Care Certificate and are now developing it as a level 2 qualification - which will provide a recognised level of competence and a route to further learning or career progression.  

This year we also: 

  • developed a level 5 commissioning qualification – including a learning disability and autism version – to help ensure that commissioning focuses on outcomes and enables people to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives. 93% of learners found the qualification useful and an independent impact evaluation demonstrated a positive impact in terms of confidence, knowledge and intention to commission in a more innovative and person-centred way. 

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    Participant on the commissioning qualification
  • reviewed level 4 learning and qualifications and made some recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care.  

  • supported the Social Work Trailblazer Group on their work to reform the degree apprenticeship and add a level 7 route. 

  • developed guidance and offered courses on ‘Being prepared for your CQC inspection’, ‘Improving your CQC rating’ and ‘Delivering Outstanding Care’. 99% of those attending the course on being prepared for your CQC inspection found it useful. 100% of those attending the course on ‘Improving your CQC rating’ found it useful.  

 

Supporting access to learning and development 

We know employers struggle to provide learning and development opportunities for their teams because of financial barriers. 

Disbursing funding through the Workforce Development Fund (WDF) is one way we support the sector with this. 

91% of employers agreed that the WDF had improved the skills and qualification levels of their staff and teams. WDF helped employers recognise the importance of training, with 69% becoming more interested in training.  

Our Essential Training helps to ensure that new starters and existing staff have the vital skills they need to provide care and support safely. It supported the completion of 29,002 refresher training programmes and 7,441 rapid inductions. 

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Learner on the essential training

 

There's evidence that we have helped employers understand the learning and development needs of their workforce

  • By the end of February 2023, 58% of workplaces sharing their data with ASC-WDS adopted training and qualifications records. This helps them to understand the learning and development of their workforce. 

  • 67% of beneficiary employers had undertaken new training needs analyses because of WDF and 72% had developed or refreshed training plans.  

  • Our campaign evaluation found that 91% of employers understand the learning and development and qualification needs for the job roles of their staff. 

 

Supporting regulated professionals 

Regulated professionals make up 5% of adult social care sector job roles. There are an estimated 23,500 social workers, 32,000 registered nurse and 3,200 occupational therapist roles. 

Although they represent a relatively small proportion of the total adult social care workforce, they are vital to the success of the social care system, integrated health and social care planning and delivery. 

The Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) is a 12-month, employer-led and employment-based programme of support and assessment that helps Newly Qualified Social Workers to develop high standards of practice and supports retention and progression. It supported around 1,480 Newly Qualified Social Workers in adult services and around 2,850 in child and family services.  

The number of nurses working in social care has fallen over a number of years. The 'We Are Social Care Nursing' brand and regular newsletter sent to 1,156 contacts (an increase of 352% during the year) shares and celebrates the exceptional work being done by nurses and nursing associates working in social care.  

    

Looking ahead  

Over the next three to five years, we want there to be a nationally agreed and consistent career pathway for social care that employers understand and use to develop staff. 

We'll continue to work in partnership with DHSC on the development of this pathway to ensure it reflects the skills, behaviours and expertise needed to deliver high-quality, personalised, compassionate care and support in collaboration with the sector.  

We'll develop the new qualification specifications for the Care Certificate and a level 5 award in digital leadership.