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Growing skills shortages have been a longstanding topic of conversation in a range of professions for a number of years now. However the stark lack of candidates in the care profession is particularly worrying, and arguably the single biggest problem facing the sector at present.

Roles in the care sector

The care and nursing sector is in dire need of skilled professionals in order to fill crucial roles and maintain quality of care, and it is becoming ever more apparent that these shortages are compounding a number of other existing problems in the sector. According to a recent report by the Care Quality Commission and the BBC, the regulator expressed apprehension over the alarming rate at which care homes are closing.

The rate of care home closures is no doubt cause for concern – with figures from the report indicating that over the past six years the number of homes has fallen by nearly 1,500 to just 16,600 – as are the ongoing funding cuts, which have led to the cost of care rapidly outpacing council subsidies. However there is little doubt in our minds that the single biggest problem facing the sector is the dearth of skilled professionals entering the profession.

A career in care 

Far more needs to be done to encourage young professionals to pursue a career in care, and effectively promote the diverse range of immensely fulfilling roles on offer. Both the government and individual care providers themselves need to ensure they are working to promote the range of holistic benefits packages to aspiring care professionals and both should consider the value of offering subsidised training courses to new and current professionals.

The care sector has been under a significant amount of pressure for a considerable period of time, and if we don’t work to address these issues soon it may be too late. If further care homes are forced to close due to a lack of qualified staff it could be disastrous for the sector, and place even more pressure on the health system as a whole. The dearth of skilled professionals is leading to private care providers having to pay well over the odds to fill roles, in turn adding further pressure to those who are already struggling to contend with rising costs and falling profit margins.

By 2025 there will be an additional 1.5m people aged 65 or over in England alone, so it is clear that more needs to be done to address the skills shortage now and encourage more young professionals to pursue a career in what is an incredibly rewarding profession. If sustainable pipelines of candidates are created soon, the skills gap could grow too large to manage.

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