May 21

Can you support the social care workforce as Skills for Care's new chair?

Posted: 28 May 2021

Our current Chair of Trustees Dame Moira Gibb is about to hand over the reins after seven years chairing our board through some turbulent times. Here she looks back at her time as chair and why it’s such a great role for anyone with an interest in adult social care workforce issues.

The social in social care has been constrained throughout lockdown, but the care fortunately has continued thanks to our sector’s amazing workforce.

So I want to begin by paying tribute to the frontline workers and their managers who have worked so hard in terrible circumstances to support the people they support, while doubtlessly at the same time fearing for their own health and the health of their loved ones. 

As Chair of Skills for Care I have seen how our team have done all they could to support the 1.5 million strong workforce and their incredible efforts during the pandemic. The organisation turned itself into a virtual one very quickly and Oonagh Smyth, who had been our Chief Executive for only two weeks when the first lockdown started, has led and supported the team outstandingly over the last year. 

I know she longs for the chance to meet our staff in the flesh, but has at least met more of them than would have been possible if she had been taking trains across the country to have face to face meetings.

I shall be sad when I step down as a trustee to leave such a great group of people, but know it will be good for the organisation to have a fresh pair of hands at the helm. They deserve the really good governance from a really engaged board I have been proud to be part of. 

I was appointed chair in 2014 inheriting a newly merged organisation. Skills for Care and the National Skills Academy had had a few tough months agreeing how to come together and then making it happen. The board has since downsized and developed. and frankly they are great to work with.  They are supportive but never complacent. 

As well as good governance such a great team also deserves good executive leadership and have had it in my time as chair. Our former CEO Sharon Allen was deeply committed to making a difference for the people who work in social care. She introduced me to the great work that gets done in Skills for Care, much of it unsung.

Oonagh has really picked up the baton, like the marathon runner she is, and increased the pace of delivery in the light of COVID-19, while leading the most engaging review of strategy I have ever seen.

However good the executive leadership and the board are, Skills for Care continues to face a big challenge. Namely supporting a workforce bigger than that of the NHS, in an undervalued sector that's worth £41.2 billion to the English economy, and a workforce that is likely to be over 2 million strong by 2035.

Can you help them meet those challenges as our new chair?

More information on the Chair of Trustees role