Evidence review and sector consultation to inform Skills for Care strategy - Executive summary

Background and purpose

In 2020, the Skills for Care Leadership Team and Board decided to develop a new three-year strategy for the organisation. This report includes the findings of an evidence review encompassing around 190 sources, and 13 stakeholder consultations, intended to inform the strategy, and exploring:

  • Vision for the adult social care workforce
  • Challenges, critical success factors and opportunities.


Skills for Care has a vision for adult social care which is shared with many across the sector and involves the workforce being capable, confident and skilled to deliver high quality person-centred care. The evidence review has found that Skills for Care’s vision fits well with that articulated by others in the social care sector. However, there are highlevel challenges that will affect the ability of the social care sector to realise this vision. These include:

  • funding pressures
  • immigration policy
  • slow integration of health and social care; and
  • the impact of COVID-19.

National leadership is needed to tackle these system-level issues and to keep the workforce and people who need care safe. This evidence review also identifies the workforce changes that need to take place to make the vision achievable. These changes (or outcomes) include:

  • overcoming recruitment and retention problems
  • workforce development; and
  • supporting workforce equality, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.

The outcomes, associated challenges and opportunities are summarised in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Workforce outcomes, problems and solutions
 Outcome  Challenges/ opportunities Potential solutions 
Overcome recruitment and retention problems
  • The social care workforce needs to grow by over half a million people by 2035. 
  • There are persistently high vacancy and turnover rates.
  • Drivers include:
    • a poor understanding of social care
    • lack of development and progression opportunities
    • job insecurity, low pay and poor terms and conditions
  • national and local recruitment initiatives
  • rapid recruitment initiatives
  • values-based recruitment and retention initiatives
  • workforce planning
  • improving job security, pay and poor terms and conditions
  • workforce development
  • career pathways, progression and development opportunities
  • alternative delivery models
  • changing perceptions of social care
Developing the workforce
  • Workforce development is needed to drive improvements in care quality, staff retention and productivity.
  • Priority topics include:
    • knowledge and skills needed for the pandemic
    • digital skills
    • leadership skills.
  • mandatory standards
  • more diverse and tailored models of training, support and qualifications
  • apprenticeships
  • coaching, mentoring and leadership development
  • continued funding for workforce development
Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Wellbeing and resilience support is clearly needed for the social care workforce during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Workforce wellbeing has also been linked to productivity and care quality.
  • peer support
  • networking 
  • helplines
  • mental health champions
  • the sharing and development of tools and resources to support wellbeing



Skills for Care is committed to using evidence to inform our programme development. This evidence review has brought together key information and contextualised our understanding of the adult social care workforce. It has drawn out clear and consistent messages, grounded in robust evidence, both for Skills for Care in it’s new strategy and the sector more broadly. The analysis shows that there is wide scope for the Government, Skills for Care, employers (including Individual Employers) and partners to work together to build a sustainable, high quality, skilled future workforce in adult social care.