From education to employment

Supporting Post-16 FE Practitioners to Teach Social Care

Care worker with a lady

The Post-16 FE Workforce

The adult social care workforce is projected to grow 29% by 2035 (Skills for Care) and the FE sector plays a vital role in training professionals who can address this skills gap. Adult social care apprenticeships and the Health and Science T Level pathway are designed to meet industry need, but for learners to realise their potential and become workplace ready, FE practitioners and leaders need the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver these qualifications.

As the expert body for professional development and standards in FE across England, ETF designs, develops and delivers the DfE-funded T Level and apprenticeship professional development programmes (TLPD and AWD). These tailored training and support packages boost FE teachers and leaders’ skills, industry knowledge and expertise and they include the training needs analysis, resources, courses, and networks.

The FE workforce has adapted quickly, but more change is coming, and the sector continues to feel the impact of the pandemic. Beyond our delivery of AWD and TLPDs, the health and social care sector will continue to evolve and so will the skills and knowledge required to provide high-quality adult social care. If we are serious about our aspiration to deliver world-class technical qualifications, the practitioners who will be sufficiently trained will be those who are committed to continuously developing their practice and subject expertise.

Reforms to 16-18 Qualifications in Social Care

Employers, learners and even people who work within the FE sector, can find the post- 16 skills system complicated. The Skills Bill proposes streamlining these qualifications and removing funding for those that overlap with T Levels.

Defunding BTECs in Social Care

Our priority is to act within the interest of the learners, and we should trust that FE providers know their learners best. 80% of respondents to the DfE consultation disagreed with the proposal, warning that the pace of change is too fast. Defunding BTEC qualifications, an established and accessible route to health and social care, could reduce learner choice and accessibility, and is likely to have greater impact on those who are Black, Asian, minority ethnic, disabled and learners who received free school meals.

Apprenticeships and T Levels

We are confident that apprenticeships and T Levels, underpinned by employer-led standards, will equip learners to meet the needs of the health and social care sector. Learners who aren’t ready for these will be able to enrol on transition years and traineeships. For these changes to be a success, practitioners need to be confident in their delivery. Learners, whose education has already been destabilised by the pandemic, need to understand the routes available to them. With the current funding model for Level 3 qualifications, they may only have one chance to choose the right course, so up to date, embedded careers education, information and guidance will be imperative.

Post-16 Qualification Reform

We welcome changes that raise the quality of and untangle post-16 qualifications. However, providers need time to adapt to these changes so that qualification reforms don’t happen at the expense of current learners.

Social Care Qualifications for Adults

The skills of adult care workers are undervalued. Robust and reformed qualifications mean that 16-19 year olds who want a career in care work will now be able to evidence their skills to current and potential employers. Qualifications will also help to formalise their transferable skills if they want to change sectors and help them adapt to the evolving workplaces of the future.

Qualifications are for the system, as well as for the individual. Unsurprisingly, ‘[social care] employers with favourable workforce metrics, such as high levels of learning and development, on average, had better outcomes’, such as lower staff turnover and higher CQC ratings (Skills for Care). Qualifications evidence that a worker’s professional knowledge is up to date, they have received quality assured training and that they can provide appropriate care. This helps those who access care services, and the people around them, have some autonomy and agency within a challenging system.

If we are serious about ensuring some of the most vulnerable people in our society have effective, person-centered care, then qualifications should be a priority for everyone – adults as well as young people. FE providers can support the care sector to raise quality by delivering fit for purpose and accessible qualifications.

Funding for Adults

With the right working conditions, pay and training, health and social care could, and should, provide an attractive and impactful career path for many people. It is a growing sector, with workers needed across all regions in the country. We should be aiming to remove as many barriers as possible for those who want to work in the sector.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee enables learners 19 and over to access a funded Level 3 qualification if they do not already have one. This funding offer is not aspirational enough. Adult learners should not be disincentivised from accessing training because they have another Level 3 qualification. Employers, who are trying to raise the quality of their care provision, should have access to a pipeline of qualified jobseekers. To attract as many people as possible to the sector and to ensure they have the skills to deliver effective care, Level 2 and 3 health and social care-related qualifications should be fully-funded for all learners.

Recommendation 1

The DfE should continue funding for tailored professional development in FE so providers are equipped to train the growing adult social care workforce.

Recommendation 2

The DfE should consider giving FE practitioners time to adapt to Level 2 and 3 changes, so that qualification reforms don’t happen at the expense of current health and social care learners.

Recommendation 3

The DfE should consider fully funding Level 2 and 3 health and social care-related qualifications for all learners – young people and adults – and for upskilling at Level 2 and 3, and reskilling at Level 2 and Level 3.

Naomi Dixon, Education and Training Foundation

Reforming Adult Social Care – Integrating Funding, Pay, Employment and Skills Policies in England

The Campaign for Learning’s report, Reforming Adult Social Care: Integrating Funding, Pay, Employment and Skills Policies in England, is based on seventeen contributions from experts in both the adult social care sector and the post-16 education, skills and employability sectors. 

Three themes are common to most of the authors’ contributions – the scale of the adult social care sector in England, the complexity of policy making for the sector, and the need for greater integration of funding, pay, employment and skills. 

Part One: The Adult Social Care Sector

Part Two: Strategic Reforms to Adult Social Care

Part Three: Recruitment in the Context of a Skills-Based Immigration Policy

  • Becci Newton, Institute for Employment Studies: Improving Pay and Job Quality in Adult Social Care
  • Karolina Gerlich, The Care Workers’ Charity: Encouraging Young People and Adults to become Adult Care Workers
  • Chris Goulden, Youth Futures Foundation: A Career in Adult Social Care: The Views of Young People
  • Andrew Morton, ERSA: Targeting Active Labour Market Policies to Fill Adult Social Care Vacancies

Part Four: The Delivery and Design of Social Care Qualifications

  • John Widdowson, Former FE College Principal: Embedding Emotional Support for Learners on Health and Social Care Courses
  • Naomi Dixon, Education and Training Foundation: Supporting Post-16 FE Practitioners to Teach Social Care

Part Five: The Role of Post-16 Education and Skills Policies

  • Elena Wilson, The Edge Foundation: Valuing Level 3 BTECs for 16-18 Year Olds Studying Health and Social Care
  • Julian Gravatt, AoC: What Post-16 FE Can and Cannot do to tackle the Adult Social Care crisis
  • Jane Hickie, AELP: Reforming Apprenticeship Funding and Delivery for Adult Social Care
  • Gemma Gathercole, CWLEP: Adults Skills, Adult Social Care and Devo-Deals

Part Six: Adult Learning and Adult Social Care

  • Susan Pember, HOLEX: The Wider Benefits of Adult Learning for Adult Social Care
  • Simon Parkinson, WEA: Adult Learning for Adults in Social Care
  • Campaign for Learning: Proposals for reform in England 

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