Social care services in Dundee say a lack of experienced candidates applying for jobs is largely to blame for an overall rise in vacancies in the last year.
A report published by the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) shows there are the equivalent of 185 full-time vacancies in the city’s social care sector as of 2018.
The number of vacancies is lower than the 195 reported in 2017 – but represents 6.5% of the entire potential workforce, up from 6.3%.
Around four in 10 local care services say they find vacancies in the care sector hard to fill.
More than 75% of those asked said a problem was that too few applicants with experience were applying – or too few applicants were even applying at all.
The report comes at a time of “challenges and opportunities” for social care services in Dundee, according to chief social work officer Diane McCulloch.
Her annual report to both councillors and members of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, presented last month, warns that demand is only likely to grow in a society of people living longer than ever.
She noted: “Over the next 25 years, the number of people aged over 75 years is expected to rise by 45%. There will be similar increases in the number of people aged over 90 years.
“As a result, in the context of growing financial pressures, there are unusually high and ever increasing demands on health, social care and other relevant local services.”
Similar challenges abound elsewhere in Scotland. National care chiefs have launched a new campaign, There’s More To Care Than Caring, to encourage people to consider a career in the sector.
North East Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has urged the government to ensure the campaign is not a one-time initiative.
He said: “It’s clear vacancies in the care sector in Dundee remain an issue and it’s important a range of organisations including the Care Inspectorate and local authorities work in partnership to combat the challenges.
“As part of this, the Scottish Government needs to offer more support to these organisations to ensure they can come up with innovative solutions to reducing vacancies.
“Care workers make a positive difference to people’s lives which is very rewarding.”
Lorraine Gray, chief executive of the SSSC, said: “A vital consideration when looking at vacancies in care services is making sure that social care attracts people with the right values, skills and experience to work in the sector.
“The social service workforce is growing, there are more than 200,000 people working in the sector, which is almost 8% of all employment in Scotland, so there are lots of opportunities and different types of roles.
“It’s a fulfilling and rewarding career which gives you the opportunity to work towards qualifications as part of a professional workforce making a positive difference to people’s lives.”
A Dundee City Council Spokesperson said: “Along with other social care providers nationally, services within Dundee are experiencing difficulty recruiting social care staff.
“The Council continues to work with partners including the third and private sectors to ensure vacancies in the provision of care within the city are kept to a minimum.
“Dundee City Council, Dundee and Angus College, NHS Tayside, and the third sector work in partnership to deliver The Dundee Health and Social Care Academy.
“This focuses on skills and qualifications required to gain employment in the care sector, with opportunities for interviews offered to those successfully completing the course for a career with the partner bodies.
“We are fully supportive of the Scottish Government’s national campaign, “There’s More to Care than Caring” to promote careers in adult social care in particular.
“Current social care vacancies are advertised on the council’s website at http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/vacancies/list”