At the moment 1.6 million people are employed in the care and support workforce, but more people will be needed in the future to meet demand. We need to attract more people to work in care and support, to make sure there are enough skilled people to deliver high quality care in the future.

We will continue to improve the skills and capability of the workforce, to help them deliver high quality care and support. We want to develop an empowered, confident and capable workforce that is able to support more integrated and personalised approaches to care.

Social workers have a crucial role to play in our reformed care and support system. The role of social work is being transformed to focus on interpersonal support, to promote choice and control, and to better meet people’s needs and goals.

The care and support sector needs high quality leadership at all levels, from strategic leaders to practice leaders, and to develop a pipeline of new talent, capable of inspiring the workforce of the future to deliver high quality care. High quality leadership is essential to the delivery of all of the following proposals.

Sector compact

A ‘sector compact’ will be developed to promote culture change and skills development. This will include:

  • a statement of what is expected of someone working in adult social care, with a core focus on the standards expected when interacting with care users and carers
  • a skills pledge specifying the minimum skills that care and support workers should have, which employers in the care sector will sign up to

Personal assistant working

Personal assistants (PAs) are employed by a person needing care or support, to enable them to live independently. We will develop PA working to improve recruitment and retention of PAs and the quality of the care and support they deliver. PAs and their employers will have access to more support, learning and training through the Workforce Development Fund (funded by the Department of Health and administered by Skills for Care to support access to training).

We will develop a PA index to explore making the services provided by PAs more transparent, allowing potential employers to compare the PA services available. This will help to inform people’s choices and provide them with more control over the care and support they choose.

Reforming social work

Social workers have a crucial role to play in the reformed care and support system. The government is committed to continuing its support for the implementation of the products developed by the Social Work Reform Board, and also supports the newly formed College of Social Work in its role in ensuring improved standards of education by universities, and promoting ongoing professional development.

The government is piloting new and innovative ways of working in social work through the Social Work Practice Pilots. The aim is to liberate social workers from case management, which will:

  • allow them to focus on promoting active and inclusive communities
  • empower people to make their own decisions about their care

The pilots are exploring ways that social workers can best achieve partnership working with community organisations, to connect people to peer support networks when they might otherwise be at risk of being isolated.

Following the Munro review of child protection, the government announced its intention to create the post of Chief Social Worker. The recruitment process is underway to appoint to the role by the end of 2012. The Chief Social Worker will:

  • be an adviser to government on adult and child social work issues
  • challenge the sector on standards
  • inform the improvement agenda

The Munro Review also recommended the appointment of Principal Social Workers for Children’s Services in each local authority. The government supports this, and the development of an equivalent role in adult services, to quality-assure the safety of practice, and to facilitate feedback between frontline staff, management and the Chief Social Worker.


The government wants to expand the current apprenticeship scheme in social care to:

  • increase the supply of staff to new and developing roles across integrated services
  • ensure the necessary wide-ranging skills across the workforce to meet the varied needs of people using services

The government will work with employers, Skills for Care and the National Apprenticeship Service to double the number of apprentices in social care to 100,000 over the next 5 years.

Online recruitment tool

A new online tool to support recruitment will provide information about working in care and support for job seekers, as well as offering links to the paid and voluntary opportunities available.

The tool will demonstrate potential career pathways within the care and support system, including examples of clear, integrated and flexible career pathways linked to defined qualifications.

Care Ambassadors

The government will expand the current Care Ambassador scheme, which is currently co-ordinated by Skills for Care. Care Ambassadors make links with a range of audiences including schools, colleges and careers and job services. The initiative aims to:

  • address the poor image of care work, which has in the past led to difficulties in recruiting staff
  • develop a better understanding of modern social care services

Developing leadership

The care and support sector needs high quality leadership at all levels, from strategic leaders to practice leaders, and to develop a pipeline of new talent, capable of inspiring the workforce of the future to deliver high quality care and to lead the transformation.

A Social Care Leadership Qualities Framework will be published in summer 2012 to complement the existing NHS Leadership Framework. Together, these frameworks will support collaborative working as an essential element of successful leadership at all levels in the care and support and health sectors. Collaborative leadership has an important role in driving high quality, integrated care.

A Leadership Forum will also be created by March 2013 and will bring together the expertise of inspirational leaders from the private, public and voluntary sectors to lead this transformation and to develop the transformational leadership required for the future. A key focus will be on the leadership role played by practice leaders, including registered managers, who have a particularly important impact on people’s experience of care and support through their frontline responsibility for ensuring the quality of care offered day to day.

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