Number crunching the recruitment challenge

Where to start with a series of headlines over the past few weeks.

The most alarming is the BBC News Report earlier in the week about soaring housing prices in Oxford and the surrounding area. The BBC says that a first step on the housing ladder requires a minimum salary of £70,000. Clearly that not only puts a home out reach for front line care staff (average salary of £15,500), but is also a problem for pretty much everyone who works in social care, not already established in the County. And we have seen that impact affecting care providers recently with recruitment struggles beginning to percolate upwards through organisational structures into Team Leader levels. It’s possible that the housing crisis in Oxford(shire) will be more devastating for higher paid staff, as they are more economically mobile and more likely to seek work/ an affordable home/ a better quality of life, elsewhere. People seeking front line work may be less able to make choices.

The second headline was in the Oxford Mail and relates to current unemployment rates. Judging by our drop-in visit to the Oxford Job Centre on Monday (it was empty), there’s clearly not many unemployed people seeking work; from 0.4% unemployed in South Oxfordshire to 0.8% in urban Oxford, that’s a mere handful of people. So we need to focus on the working population as well, and ensure we build on current staffing, whilst also retaining our existing staff within the sector to keep staffing levels above an absolute minimum.

All of this was summed up in the publication last week of the annual Skills for Care survey of the social care workforce. Looking at the Oxfordshire report some figures stand out:

  • Turnover continues to rise from 22.8% in January this year to 27.7% at July 2015. This bucks the trend in the south east where it has stayed broadly the same at around 24%.
  • Turnover is now highest amongst regulated professional staff at 34.6%, up from 23.6% in January. Managerial staff turnover also slightly up.
  • Vacancy rates overall have dropped by 0.5% and are now at 6.1%
  • The scaling up of Skills for Care figures show that approximately 3,000 positions are being made vacant each year.
  • There are no significant changes in the origin / nationality of the workforce with only slight movements concerning British / non-EEA and EEA-non-British

Putting the trends together, it appears that our local infrastructure issues are beginning to impact on our social care delivery as described earlier. As if it wasn’t hard enough to recruit, we may be losing the people who do the the recruiting. We have to trust that our elected politicians at various levels have a good handle on this, but then comes a final belly blow with the not-unexpected announcement that Oxfordshire County Council will need to save a further £50 million. Rumours have been circulating for a while about expected cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Settlement due in January 2016, so here’s a foretaste. The Council is consulting on a wide range of options and we urge you to strongly voice your opinion through the current consultation. The consultation closes on 30 November. In addition to the usual routes there are three public meetings starting on 27 October.

Over the past few months an increasing number of OACP members have taken advantage of our free vacancy advertising service. We have now launched our vacancy matching service, where potential job seekers can upload CVs for a direct match with current vacancies. If you would like to know more please contact us at the usual address. We are building on this with our Think Care Oxfordshire (mirroring Think Care Careers from Skills for Care) project funded by Oxfordshire County Council and we are specifically seeking out all opportunities at job fairs, careers fairs, and building relationships with JobCentre Plus. We are also in planning for pop up stalls in supermarkets and other places with high footfall. In short we will picking up the promotion and leading the connections with key stakeholders. For more information on this please contact our Project Co-ordinator, Jane Wood on 07724 563309.

Plainly, life is pretty difficult for social care and people who need it at the moment, and about to get a whole lot tougher. And we’ve not even touched on the incoming NMW and the inflationary impact that will have in organisations.
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Social care infographic