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Education and Training

In 2008, the proportion of social care workers with a qualification at National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 2, 3 and 4 was higher than the all sector average. Similarly, the proportion of workers with a Level 5 qualification or no qualifications was lower than the all industry average. The proportion of workers in the sector with an NQF qualification Level 5 rose by more than a half compared with 2002 (54% or almost 30,000 more workers). Those with Level 4 qualification also increased each year from 2002 to 2007.

A wide range of qualifications are available to the sector. The most popular qualifications include: Levels 2 & 3 – S/NVQ in Health and Social Care and Level 4 NVQ Registered Manager Award (Adults). However, applicable S/NVQs are available at levels 1-5, targeted at workers in different job roles.

Source: UK Sector Skills Assessment 2010


Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary for different types of jobs and occupations within the sector. There is no qualification requirement for many jobs within adult social care although the 14-19 diploma and apprenticeships are both routes in to the sector. Once in employment social care employees will develop skills through a formal induction process and are expected to study towards relevant qualifications (e.g. a National Vocational Qualification). Staff working with vulnerable adults must complete a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

There are qualification requirements for some occupations and specific roles, for example ‘social worker’ roles are regulated. All qualified social workers have to be registered with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) in England. To register as a social worker, individuals must hold one of the GSCC approved qualifications. These are usually a three year undergraduate degree course, but faster postgraduate routes are available.

All staff working in children’s services and those working with vulnerable adults and in specific roles are required to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and for anyone working with children under the age of 18 years, a further check against the Protection of Children Act (PoCA) list is also required.

There are no requirements to work as a nanny, but there is an expectation that they have undergone CRB clearance. However, many employers and employment agencies prefer candidates with relevant childcare qualifications and experience of working with children.

For most jobs in the care sector some relevant experience is required. Volunteering is considered a good method of gaining experience and learning about the different areas of work in the sector. Many of the areas of required knowledge and skill for roles in the sector include:

  • Understanding the importance of promoting dignity, confidentiality and respect
  • Understanding and being able to assess risks
  • Being reliable and dependable
  • Knowledge of Health and Safety, moving and handling, fire safety, first aid and food hygiene
  • Being able to communicate and understand the importance of ‘active listening’

        Source: Skills for Care and Development AACS LMI report 2010


        Progression in the sector

        The is great potential for those who have developed an appropriate range of skills to transfer within the social care sector, moving between settings to working with different service user groups. There are a number of opportunities for progression in the sector.

        There are opportunities to progress and develop a career in the early years, children and young people’s sector. An individual can develop their career and continue to work directly with people by becoming, for example, a senior care worker, children’s centre worker, outreach worker or social worker etc. Alternatively they can move into other job roles with less direct care involvement, such as team manager, development and training officer, commissioning officer or in inspecting services.

        Skills for Care has developed a career pathways tool for those considering a career in social care and for those already working in the sector to show the range of career development opportunities.

        Source: Skills for Care and Development AACS LMI report 2010

        Data and charts

        Qualification profile of social care workforce, 2002-2008

        Highest qualification held in social care workforce by gender, 2008