One obvious consequence of the growing life expectancy of people in the UK is that the number of workers in the health and social care sectors needs to increase to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population.

This need has been highlighted in a recent report published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which warns that a serious shortage of health and social care workers means that more than two million additional staff will need to be recruited and trained by 2022.

UKCES’s research shows that a higher than average proportion of workers in the sector are aged between 50 and 64, further amplifying the need for new staff to be recruited. However, the study also indicated that limited opportunities for career progression in the sector have resulted in many younger workers moving to other sectors.

The report, entitled Skills and Performance Challenges in Health and Social Care, also highlights the sector’s changing dynamic, with the future provision of care set to focus on enabling patients to live independently and be self-supporting. This shift in patient care will result in the increasing use of preventative treatments, greater use of technology and a need for workers in the sector to work remotely and with greater autonomy.

In order to meet these challenges, the report calls on employers to create more training opportunities and intermediary roles, thereby giving greater opportunities for career progression.

In addition, the report identifies a need for dual training routes to be developed, thereby enabling workers to have the opportunity to progress their careers in both health and social care without having to retrain in order to switch between the two disciplines.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Dr Vicki Belt, an assistant director at UKCES, said: “These findings demonstrate the dramatic extent of this need – health and social care is already the largest sector in the UK, yet to meet the rising need for care we will need to see a 50% increase in the number of people working in these fields.”

Dr Belt added that: “The problem goes beyond just a need to recruit. Employers must do more to create attractive career pathways through which people can progress, as well as develop training routes which can apply to roles in both health and social care – opening access to all areas in the sector.”

To find out more about GRI and how we can help ensure fulfilment of the temporary staff required despite the challenges of skills shortages.

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