Recruitment and retention



By recruiting the right people into the sector, you can develop further skills to ensure you have a caring workforce capable and willing to meet the standards expected.

Skills for Care’s ‘Values based recruitment toolkit’ is a practical resource to help employers recruit and develop of care workers. It includes practical examples and a checklist to assist employers in this process.

We would encourage you to focus on recruiting only those committed to working in adult social care – rather than those who want a job regardless of sector. If you recruit people with the right values, this can greatly influence the levels of care they provide and their likelihood to stay (avoiding high re-recruitment costs).

A costly issue can be if new workers decide that adult social care isn’t right for them after they’ve undertaken weeks of induction and support (some services have reported that up to 80% of their new workers leave within the first few months).  A ‘Question of Care’ is another practical resource that provides realistic insight into care roles and is used by employers in the early stages of recruitment.

You could also offer work placements or taster days, and I Care…Ambassadors can help you do this. I Care….Ambassadors are care workers who inspire and motivate people to understand more about working in social care. When you join you’ll nominate enthusiastic staff to become ambassadors who’ll deliver activities to promote careers in social care. It’s a great way to find people with the right values, build links with local schools, Jobcentre Plus and community groups, and you can offer work placements and taster days as part of your activities.

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In addition to having the right values, you’ll need to recruit care workers who have, or are willing and capable to develop, English, number, digital and employability skills, including team work and problem solving. These are collectively known as core skills. Core skills are essential abilities that those directly delivering care must either have or be supported by their employer to achieve. 

English language skills (written and verbal) are essential for various duties including communication, engaging with other services and completing care plans. 

Number skills are important for distributing medication, team skills for working effectively together with others in the service and the wider community, whilst the increased use of mobile phones, assistive technology etc. means that digital skills are increasingly important.

Skills for Care has learning activities, practical guidance and assessment sheets to help employers assess ability at the recruitment stage and plan further support beyond this. 

In addition to core skills, Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated providers need to ensure that those new to the sector are ably inducted using the Care Certificate.

When recruiting new workers, consider the duties that they’ll be undertaking and what training, support and supervision they require to be effective in their role. 

Skills for Care’s ‘Workforce planning and development tool’, ‘Care Certificate self-assessment’ and ‘On-going learning and development guide’ are all practical resources to help.

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There is no expectation that those joining the adult social care sector as a care worker must have prior training or qualifications. In the majority of adult social care roles, you can arrange the appropriate training and support as part of a new worker’s induction programme.

If the service is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), you must plan for the appropriate training, supervision and workplace assessment of competence before they work out of the line of sight of experienced workers. 

The minimum induction standards for those new to the sector is the Care Certificate. It includes a mixture of practical training, knowledge learning and workplace assessment that is done by experienced assessors observing the new worker after training has been provided. For those new to care, it can take a number of weeks of training, support and supervision for somebody to achieve the Care Certificate. 

Whilst qualifications are usually only expected at more senior roles, such as the care manager, the new apprenticeship standards are recommended for services wishing to develop your new workers. The new apprenticeship standards require the Care Certificate to either already be completed or completed as part of the process.

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We recommend you look at our ‘Finding and keeping workers’ online resource that includes a section on attracting more people. The recruitment and retention section of our ‘Learn from Others’ site shows approaches that other services have taken to attract new workers.

You can raise awareness of job opportunities in your service by establishing close links with Jobcentre Plus, schools, colleges, universities, GP practices and community groups. I Care…Ambassadors can help you to do this. 

Reach people in your local community via open days, getting involved in awareness days and national campaigns. You can also talk to the press about your successes and highlight you are recruiting.

More and more employers are also using online methods to find new people. This can include social media, online advertising and websites.

By offering apprenticeships, you can reach individuals searching online for these popular development opportunities.

You can also use your existing staff to help this process, with some organisations offering incentives to colleagues who help identify new care workers from their family and friends. 

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I Care…Ambassadors are people who work in social care who inspire and motivate people to understand more about working in social care, by delivering careers activities in the local community, such as presentations, information stands and work placements.

This is a great way of improving the perception of jobs in social care, a brilliant way to promote your service, and a really nice way to reward your staff by recognising them with this special role.

You can sign up and nominate your staff to become ambassadors. This will not only help you to recruit new staff to the sector, but retain existing workers too.

The Skills for Care website explains how to become an I Care…Ambassador and the benefits of adult social care services getting involved.  We provide a range of resources to develop these individuals to be effective at promoting the sector and practical resources to use when performing these duties.

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Yes - recruiting the right people into the sector, with the right values and core skills, should always be the primary focus. This is equally true of your young workers who can be hugely beneficial to adult social care services.

If you employ 16-17 years, there are some additional expectations of those undertaking direct care duties. Skills for Care and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) advise that 16-17 years should be supported by their employer to undertake a national development programme to ensure they are ably trained, developed and supervised. An apprenticeship is strongly recommended. 

In addition, regulated care services are expected to ensure that the Care Certificate is effectively covered and people who need care and support (or their family/advocates) formally agree to being cared for by a young person.

The recruitment and retention section of our ‘Recommendations for CQC provider guide’ explains further. The apprenticeships section of our website explains how employers can offer this opportunity. 

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No - Skills for Care is not a recruitment agency and we cannot find workers for your service.

Our role is to promote the benefits of working in adult social care in England for those considering joining the sector through our ‘Think Care Careers’ website, as well as promoting tools to help employers recruit and retain staff.

If you directly employ your own care and support staff (also known as individual employers), our dedicated information hub includes details of local services that may advertise care personal assistants. 

For regulated service, our ‘Good and outstanding care guide’ includes some further tips on recruitment and retention and highlights wider considerations, such as the risk to services on being overly reliant on temporary workers.

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Your approach may vary depending on many factors, including service type and location. 

Whatever your challenges and opportunities are, our workforce intelligence reports, including the ‘Size and structure of adult social care’, provide national and local demographic information. Our ‘Workforce planning and development tool’ can help you to identify approaches to take.

Making sure you get the right people in the first place is one way to cut down on recruitment costs, and values-based recruitment can help you do this.

For many, apprenticeships provide a practical and affordable way to develop your new and existing workers (from care workers through to care managers).

The Care Certificate enables you to recruit new workers into the sector and support them to meet the national minimum standards of training and support.

Recruiting experienced staff into the sector can help reduce induction related costs - though a customised induction and continued development of staff remains important to ensure their skills remain up to date.

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The National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) dashboards offer insight into other services and how you compare. Using anonymous data from over 20,000 care services across England, the dashboards can help employers understand how they compare with others both nationally and at a local level.

For those services who contribute data to the NMDS-SC system, you can log in and see how you directly compare. However, the dashboard information is equally accessible to other care services.

The dashboards enable you to look at local and national turnover and vacancy rates, as well as the length of time people stay in a role. There is further insight into where other services recruit the majority of their workers from, pay rates, the number of staff on zero hour contracts and how staff are developed.

Using the dashboards, you can drill into local and national trends and understand what other services are doing. This can help inform new approaches and strategies to recruitment and retention, which Skills for Care’s ‘Finding and keeping workers’ resource can be used to help implement.

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The 30% annual turnover of those directly delivering care is hitting budget lines hard as services invest heavily in recruitment and induction.

If you’re able to recruit and retain care workers, this can not only be a huge cost saving but it also enables you to invest in longer-term development, helping this skilled workforce to continue to build relationships and deliver high standards of care. 

Job satisfaction and effective management of staff are important factors in keeping people feeling safe and supported in the workplace. Our ‘People performance management toolkit’ and ‘Effective supervision guide’ are practical ways for managers to support staff, whilst our ‘Good and outstanding care guide’ provides insight into how other services support their workers.

When staff do leave, we would recommend you invest time in understanding their reasons. This can help you to plan approaches and effective ways of working to minimise this happening again. 

Our ‘Finding and keeping workers’ tool includes further advice on how to focus on the retention of staff, whilst our ‘Learn from Others’ resource includes practical approaches taken by other services.

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There are many things to consider in the setting staff pay levels, though understanding how you compare to others is important if you’re losing people to other services because of pay.

The National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) dashboards provide insight into what other services are paying a wide selection of different care roles at a national, regional and local level. You can search both annual pay and hourly rates offered, as well as what different types of care services pay. 

For many people working in adult social care, pay is an important factor but attracting new recruits and keeping existing staff is as much about them feeling valued, supported and enjoying the work that they do. Our ‘Finding and keeping workers’ tool can help you with practical ways to achieved this.

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This will often to come down to how valued and supported staff feel, what opportunities there are to develop themselves further and if they feel rewarded in the duties that they do.

Whilst many workers may be happy and content in their current role, others will be keen to develop themselves further at your organisation or elsewhere. Involving staff in the shaping of the service and providing secondments, shadowing and other ways to keep them engaged can be mutually beneficial.

Developing talent in your workforce is essential for the longer-term sustainability of care services to set themselves apart from other organisations and grow internal expertise and new managers. 

Joining I Care…Ambassadors is a great way to develop and motivate your staff. When you join you’ll nominate enthusiastic staff to become ambassadors who’ll deliver careers activities and talk about why they love their job. This can develop their presentation and communication skills, and increase their confidence and motivation.

Ensuring the service has the appropriate strategies in place can minimise the impact of regularly replacing talent lost to other services and sectors.

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For regulated services, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regularly celebrate the visibility of managers and leaders and their care skills in the effective running of services. So we would recommend you always look for new managers and leaders with health and care sector experience.

Often the experience and skills needed to provide high levels of care exist or can be developed internally. Developing existing talent is highly recommended and many managers with previous experience of being a care worker / senior care worker or doing a similar role are often very effective. You could do this through an apprenticeship or adult social care qualifications, or through on the job training.

‘Lead to Succeed’ is a learning programme aimed at aspiring managers and offered by some of Skills for Care’s endorsed learning providers. ‘Becoming a Manager’ is a practical workbook aimed at aspiring and new managers to induct themselves, drawing on expertise either within their service or other local services.

If you’re recruiting managers and leaders from outside of your service, ideally look for existing care management experience and qualifications (or approximate experience / qualifications in the senior position you are recruiting). For regulated services, the leadership and management section of our ‘Recommendations for CQC provider guide’ should prove useful to you.

Our annual graduate management programme enables employers looking to recruit and develop into leadership and management roles the opportunity to invest utilising a national framework.

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