COVID-19: Adult social care job vacancies higher than before pandemic, report finds

·2-min read

Adult social care job vacancies in England are higher than before the pandemic, a report has found.

Vacancy rates fell during the pandemic but have continued to rise since May 2021, a Skills for Care's annual workforce report has found.

On average, 6.8% of adult social care roles were unfilled during 2020/21 - 105,000 vacancies on any one day.

This was less than the previous year's average, when 7.3% - or 112,000 - vacancies a day were estimated to be empty.

But as of August, 8.2% of roles were unfilled, up from 8% just before the pandemic in March 2020.

The industry body said there had also been a drop in the number of filled posts since March - the first time it had recorded a fall since records began in 2008.

This occurred as vacancies rose, suggesting providers are finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff, as opposed to reduced demand.

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Skills for Care warned the economy opening back up and the mandatory vaccination for social care staff is likely the cause and said the mandate could push the vacancy rate up to a record level.

An extra 490,000 people will need to be recruited by 2035 to keep up with the ageing population, Skills for Care warned.

It said registered nurses have seen the most obvious decrease, with jobs falling 5% to 24,000 in the past year and the turnover rate 38.2% - more than four times higher than the 8.8% turnover rate for NHS nurses.

Overall turnover remained high, at 28.5% - amounting to about 410,000 people leaving their jobs over the year.

The report also found the pandemic had "accelerated" the shift from care homes to services providing care at home, with 2.8% - or 45,000 - more jobs overall and domiciliary care services jobs boosting that rise.

Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth said: "This report is a stark reminder that our recruitment challenges continue, and to help tackle that we need to properly reward and value care workers for their high skill levels and dedication.

"We know that this is a priority for the new government White Paper expected on adult social care this year and look forward to seeing the measures contained (in it)."

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said the report shows that the workforce is not "recognised or valued for the amazing contribution it makes to millions of people's lives each and every day".

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