- What do researchers do? Labour market information
- Sector information
- Social work and welfare
Social work and welfare
The social care sector covers all the occupations aiming to help people overcome difficulties related to physical, mental, environmental or lifestyle problems at any stage in their lives. It includes staff in both professional and non-professional roles who support vulnerable people living in the community and in residential care. It is overwhelmingly a publicly funded sector. There are opportunities to work all over the UK, with particularly high vacancy rates in the London boroughs and the city unitary authorities.
Social care is high on the Government's agenda, with a focus on the integration of health, social care and education to reflect the overlap between these areas of life. The sector is often under public scrutiny, with high vacancy and staff turnover rates in some areas and high profile court cases coupled with a lack of recognition for social workers. The Care Standards Act 2000 changed this with the introduction of a social work degree and social workers' register. This act and other relevant legislation, such as the Children Act 2004 and the Mental Health Act 2007, can be found on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.
According to last year's UK Sector Skills Assessment for the social care, children, early years and young people's workforces, ‘demand for services and levels of need are rising steadily, not least in the aftermath of the recession. These challenges are made harder by the need to achieve efficiencies and savings'.
Social care and welfare services can be divided into two broad categories:
- services for adults: this category includes social work occupations that provide support for the elderly, people with mental health, learning and physical disabilities, or alcohol and substance abuse problems, the homeless, and victims of domestic abuse
- services for children, young people and families: this category includes social work occupations that provide fostering services, adoption and child protection, and services aimed at supporting young offenders, and youngsters who are unemployed or homeless, or who have learning and physical disabilities.
Occupations in the sector range from youth, prison and drug workers, to art therapists and counsellors, and forensic psychologists and local government officers. Social workers can also choose to follow careers in practice education.