Recruitment and retention are major concerns within the health and care sector, but professionals are being urged to tap into the talents of Generation Z to ensure top-quality staff are on-hand to plug the growing skills gap. Connect2Care, the leading provider of training and apprenticeships in the Care Sector, discusses ways employers can reduce this gap by boosting engagement with young apprentices.
By Jill Whittaker, managing director of Connect2Care, provider of training and apprenticeships in the Care Sector.
“The care sector is facing a growing skills gap as demand for more trained professionals increases alongside the needs of our ageing population. With around 90,000 vacancies for social care jobs currently listed in England and 15,000 vacancies on the NHS website, the need for skilled health and care staff is greater than ever. In fact, by 2025 it’s likely that England will need 718,000 workers to care for an additional 1.5 million people aged 65 or over. However, the reality is these numbers simply won’t be met unless businesses look at innovative ways to encourage fresh talent into the industry and to highlight the benefits of a career within the sector.
“With staff retention and recruitment being a concern for many employers, addressing the core values and career aspirations of Generation Z could be the key to securing a workforce for the future. According to research by Adecco, the majority (32 percent) of this generation say their greatest aspiration is to be in their dream job within 10 years. While they rank fulfilling work, stability and friendly work environments highly, the potential for career growth is their top motivator – with 36 percent more focused on the opportunity for progression rather than salary when it comes to their first job. This is backed up by findings from Monster.com’s Multigenerational Survey in which a whopping 74 percent ranked purpose ahead of a pay cheque.
“Generation Z’s drive for a career path to be proud of is fantastic and something that supportive employers can really build upon. The onus is on us to position the care sector as a prosperous career option for the younger generation. Whether this connection starts with care home managers visiting their local schools to talk about what they do or holding work experience for pupils to find out more about the realities of care work – we need to invest time and resources in reaching and engaging this age group.
“We also need to make sure that once they do start to consider life after school, the career routes open to Generation Z are appealing and offer what they need to keep them motivated and interested. One of the most effective ways to do this is through apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships are a great way of establishing personal development opportunities for a workforce which learns best through doing and this is where the benefit of investing in training schemes can really come into its own.
“With the new government Apprenticeship Levy now in force, businesses have access to funds that have to be spent on training and development. The Levy applies to all UK businesses in the Public and Private Sectors and is payable for companies with an annual pay bill of £3million or more. Employers with an annual pay bill of less than £3million don’t have to pay the Levy charges but they will continue to have access to government funding to support apprenticeships.
“At Connect2Care, we strongly believe that business owners should take full advantage of the funding made available from the Levy; after all, the payments are compulsory and can ultimately help to reduce employer’s recruitment bills as they invest in a longer-term workforce – so let’s make the most of them.
“Apprenticeships can help the care industry to stand out from the crowd and establish itself as an attractive option to a new generation of caring professionals. By offering apprenticeships, businesses can provide their new starters with a clear path for learning, development and qualifications, and give them fixed goals to work towards, helping to keep them engaged. After all, over 35 percent of workers think more training and development opportunities would entice people into the healthcare sector. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy offers the perfect time for care managers to consider how they can tailor their programmes to meet the aspirations of Generation Z, as well as their existing workforce.
“To support an increase in job applications, businesses need to reassess the recruitment process to make sure the care sector is seen as an aspirational place to work by the younger generation. By implementing a variety of development programmes, training structures and engagement strategies, care operators can set a solid foundation to entice Generation Z. This will not only enable employers to address current and future resourcing issues but will result in a more passionate, brighter and skilled workforce of the future.”
 Research by Skills for Care 2016
 Adecco Staffing – 2015 Way to Work
 Monster – Multi-Generational Survey
 Adobe – ‘Gen Z in the Classroom: Creating the Future’
 Research by CV Library 2016