Ongoing staffing problems are the result of too few applicants with qualifications
Scotland’s colleges say they will tackle the social care recruitment crisis by launching a new online course designed to bring more qualified staff into the sector.
Some 1,800 funded spaces on the course, which provides students with an introduction to the area of social care and a stepping-stone to employment or further training, are available to students across Scotland’s colleges.
According to the SSSC, the ongoing staffing problems are the result of too few applicants with qualifications or experience.
Scotland’s spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, warned recently that despite annual spending of £5 billion on care services in Scotland, some of these are near crisis point.
According to the Care Inspectorate, more than one third of social care services have struggled with unfilled vacancies in the last 12 months.
A significant feature of the course is supporting students into further study or directly into employment through collaboration between colleges, College Development Network (CDN), the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and local employers.
With opportunities for qualified students many and varied, and vacancies at an all-time high, CDN led the bid for funding for colleges across the country to offer this course.
CDN is the national agency that supports skills and development across the college sector in Scotland and promotes college as an advantageous educational path which rivals that of university.
Jim Metcalfe, CEO at College Development Network, said: “It is clear that demand for trained carers is outstripping supply and this is leading the care sector to crisis point in Scotland. Colleges aim to provide students with the best opportunities possible for learning and onward job prospects, and they also strive to meet the needs of wider society. It should come as no surprise that colleges have worked hard to deliver a course that will boost the number and quality of applicants for social care jobs.
“We are aware of the growing demand for short, focused training courses that are specific to economic sectors and that help people secure employment opportunities. This course is absolutely an example of that and of Scotland's college sector meeting the needs of the job market and society at large.”
Darlene Hogg, curriculum manager for health and social care at Ayrshire College, commented: “We are in a period of transition just now, with health and social care requiring the greatest support for recruitment. Employers have realised the importance of linking more closely with colleges and we are seeing some students leaving to take up jobs but that is a positive destination for them.
“Some students at many colleges throughout Scotland, from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway, and including West College Scotland and Ayrshire College have started the introduction course, and on completion will be ideally positioned to build on this foundation of knowledge either directly in the workplace or with further study.”
Amanda MacDonald, a learner at West College Scotland, added: “I’d applied for a few care jobs, but the answer was always the same, that I needed some experience. I was a little apprehensive about starting [the course], but knew I had to do it if I wanted to get anywhere. I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed the case studies. It’s given me a really good insight into what a job in care will actually be like and given me the skills to do it.”