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 hello...and a very
warm welcome to
   Dear Readers,
Welcome again to Talking Care.
Introducing Social care and workforce – what do we look like?
What do you know about people working in adult social care and what’s happening in our labour markets? There is no definitive national register of non­professionally qualified care workers, but the strategic body for the social care workforce, Skills for Care, collects data on the workforce and publishes regular updates on vacancy rates and demographics. Skills for Care estimate that there are around 10,500 people working in direct care roles in Oxfordshire in the independent sector (non­local authority), with a further 900 in management roles including the key position of Registered Manager. No organisation can function without core personnel providing administration, HR and finance support. Larger organisations may have data managers, marketing functions and wider business support, but for the purposes of this article, we are focusing on those directly providing care, or those managing carers.
When we look in more detail at the headline figure of 10,500 people working in direct care jobs in Oxfordshire, we find that it equates to around 7,600 full time equivalent jobs. In other words at least 2,900 people are working part­ time. This is important, because in an economy like Oxfordshire’s, where there are around 15­ 20,000 vacancies at any one time, it indicates that there is underused capacity in the employment market. A large minority of people working in social care are choosing not to work more hours; we call this underemployment. The reasons behind this may be complex. Many parents, historically and still mainly women (and I say this as a working Dad), may have child care responsibilities limiting their working day. However, other factors are at play, with many people working in care, also being informal carers outside of work. At a time when we need all levers helping, social care is not being supported by national and local government policy. The decrease in school transport for example has resulted in many more parents having to drive their children to school, as either they can’t afford the transport costs, or there aren’t any places on the bus for children, who do not qualify for subsidised places. This has a double whammy of limiting the earning potential of those parents and getting in the way of people trying to get to work through
Oxfordshire’s traffic, not least home care workers trying to move from client to client; plus added pollution at a time when climate change is rising to the top of the world’s agenda is not welcome.
Full Fact, the independent fact checking service, states that underemployment is not growing in the UK economy1, which flies somewhat in the face of the accusation that record employment has been achieved, because work is being spread more thinly through an increase in part­ time jobs. In fact, on average, people are now working roughly the same number of hours as they were in 2010, although the average worker in the UK works 32 hours a week about three hours lower than in the 1970s when records began.
For social care, which is desperately short of workers, how do we release and encourage people to provide more care hours? With Brexit coming at some stage (it will happen) and the perfect storm of a further grip on immigration and rising demand through an ageing population, we need to do all we can to increase care hours. In the meantime, you might want to think about your plans. How will you care for yourself and others in the future?
Let’s keep on talking care.
Eddy McDowall Chief Executive
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Editors note:
If you would like to submit an article or advertise in the next issue of Talking Care please contact:
Jane Wood ­ Editorial/Advertising Tel: 01235 248087

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