Staff recruitment and retention issues are likely to get worse without an urgent and greater focus on encouraging young people into working in adult social care.

The workforce is the sector’s lifeblood, battling against the odds to provide personal, dignified care to thousands of older and disabled people.

However, a renewed drive is needed to persuade young people, including school leavers, that a career in adult social can be a fulfilling and rewarding one.

Such initiatives will help address recruitment problems, provide a more balanced age range of carers and help fill vacancies as more senior and long-serving carers leave the profession.

Among those achieving success in this area is Milton Keynes Council which in 2014 set up an adult social care work experience programme offering young people studying health and social care at school to undertake a five-day placement in the service.

The council employed a dedicated worker to work with careers officers and social care teachers at 11 schools offering health and social care qualifications. This led to them asking young people to apply to the scheme, holding an interview process and selecting the most suitable candidates.

Work experience placements have included both within the council’s own learning disabilities and dementia services, and with a range of private voluntary organisations.

In the past three years, 147 young people have completed the programme, with only three dropping out. Of the work placement “graduates”, 11 secured employment shortly afterwards, six did apprenticeships, 10 did nursing or social work degrees, and one was named Buckinghamshire Young Apprentice of the Year 2017.

Sarah Gammon, Learning and Development Manager at Milton Keynes Council, said:

“Overall, we see this as a very positive move in terms of trying to attract young people into the sector.”

So, while we know that a career in the care profession needs to be more rewarding and remunerated properly, with the funding solution addressing the recruitment, training and retention of staff, DASSs not doing so already should consider launching their own initiatives to help address the problem.

This is the first year that there are fewer carers than those in need of care, so it is vital that schemes, like that of Milton Keynes, address this head-on by targeting young people to fill vacancies in the sector, whilst boosting their employment prospects at the same time.