- What do researchers do? Labour market information
- Sector information
- Social work and welfare
- Social work and welfare: future trends
Social work and welfare: future trends
Professional posts require specific academic and/or professional qualifications. Social workers can qualify via either an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate qualification.
Although the social care and welfare sector as a whole has the lowest average in terms of workforce qualified at Level 5 (including doctoral qualifications), recent research has identified that a large component of the sector's future skills needs will be clustered around managerial positions, as much as care work occupations. This is strong evidence that, even though not necessary for working at any level in the sector, postgraduate qualifications at all levels will be welcomed throughout the occupational spectrum.
The recent UK Skills Assessment for Social Care identified skills demand for the following positions - many of which could accommodate the higher level academic and strategic skills of a well honed doctoral graduate:
- leadership and management; there is an ongoing need for managers with appropriate level four and five qualifications to address the challenges facing the sector; doctorate graduates across the disciplines are ideally placed for these occupations
- commissioning, procurement and negotiation skills
- gateway qualifications and mandatory continuous professional development
- a range of professional development requirements, including the need for continuous on-the-job quality training and skills development
- specialist skills; there is an evident increase in the need for specialisation (e.g. learner support, dementia care); all postgraduate candidates are perfectly placed for fulfilling this demand, prior to on-the-job training
- basic skills/employability; it has been identified that a significant number of people employed within the sector have support needs in relation to basic skills (literacy, numeracy, information and communications technology (ICT)) employers have also been concerned about the lack of team working and communication skills amongst new entrants.
In addition there are the more generic, but very much sector-specific skills:
Employers often look for people who have:
- empathy and the ability to relate to a range of clients and professionals
- communication and listening skills
- the ability to cope with a crisis and make decisions under pressure
- an understanding of policy and the importance of adhering to guidelines
- the ability to explain complex information
- strong personal values and self-motivation
- a non-judgmental approach.
Skills for Care states that the adult social care workforce needs to increase by 80% by 2025 to meet care needs because an ageing population will place more demands on social care services. Figures from June 2009 indicate there are over 15,000 current job vacancies in England for care assistants and home carers, and the government has announced a scheme called Care First to provide 50,000 traineeships in social care for the young and unemployed. The need for social workers has resulted in the Department of Health launching a recruitment drive with television advertisements.
In a similar vein, the 2006 Working Futures 2004-2014: Sectoral Report, forecast that between 2004 and 2014 the sector will grow by around 10%. More specifically, the 2008 Working Futures 2007-2017: Evidence Report 2 (for Health and Social Work combined) forecast that although the administrative, clerical and secretarial group and elementary occupations are projected to have further job losses, this is more than offset by increases elsewhere. Indeed, those roles relevant to doctoral graduates from all disciplines - i.e. those in the managerial, professional and associate professional groups - are all projected to see strong job gains. The same report foresees the creation of 400 thousand additional jobs in the period up to 2017.
As for the future of the sector's institutional make-up, ‘Putting People First' is a policy development towards the personalisation of adult care services. The Local Government Association (LGA) called for an overhaul of social care in June 2008. Working in this sector now involves joined-up thinking between departments, councils, government and funding. Consequently, structures of eligibility and care provision have become less uniform across the UK. The future holds the answer to how the sector will evolve in terms of institutional structures but, since the sector is a priority, the future seems bright, regardless of the ideology of the government in power.
Comment on this page.