In line with current developments at EU level on intra-EU mobility of professionals and the European Commission’s agenda on jobs, ESN has been reviewing key issues around recruitment, retention, planning and managing the social service workforce in Europe. Our work has focussed on social workers and social care professionals working in all areas of social services: child protection, services for people with disabilities and mental health issues, social inclusion, and services for older people.
Throughout 2016, ESN conducted a study on the topic with Dr Shereen Hussein, Principal Research Fellow at King’s College London’s Social Care Workforce Research Unit. Together we explored the current workforce challenges, good examples of addressing them using innovative approaches to training and planning, and key facilitators for sustainable workforce management.
Our 2016 seminar ‘Investing in the social service workforce: Building a caring society’ brought together around 100 delegated from ESN member organisations and external participants from across Europe and beyond. We discussed the opportunities and challenges of workforce mobility in the EU, and explored sustainable recruitment and retention strategies at the local and organisational level. Participants also learned about innovative approaches to workforce planning and management, including technological tools that can support new ways of working. The event was an opportunity for ESN and Shereen Hussein to present some initial research findings and for participants to contribute to it. This has fed into ESN’s report on the social service workforce, which is based on a literature review, a comprehensive questionnaire that we launched in summer 2016, and a policy analysis of selected European countries. It features a set of recommendations for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers.
At European level, the Social Investment Package (SIP) stresses the role of high quality, integrated and personalised services in developing people's skills and capabilities, improving their opportunities and helping them to make the most of their potential throughout the life course. The Communication from the European Commission: Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-2020 mentions in particular shortages in the long-term care workforce that should be addressed by “boosting employment in ‘white coat jobs’ and improving working conditions in this area.”
This ties in with the New Skills Agenda for Europe, which calls for modernisation of labour markets, education and training to address both skills shortages and recruitment problems. It also outlines EU work strands to make skills and qualifications more comparable. Mobility of workers is of increasing importance in the social services field, for instance in child protection and in the long-term care sector, which requires easy to compare skills and qualifications, as the Commission proposes.
- ESN seminar ‘Investing in the social service workforce: Building a caring society’ - Delegate pack and presentations below
- Baltruks, D.; Hussein, S.; Lara Montero, A. (2017) Investing in the social services workforce. Brighton: European Social Network.
- European Commission: European skills, competences, qualifications and occupations
Comparing the social service workforce across Europe – current trends
- Intra-EU mobility and the social service workforce - Doede Ackers, Deputy-Head of Unit D1 – Free movement of workers, EURES, European Commission
- Planning the social service workforce in the EU: skills, recruitment and mobility - Shereen Hussein, Chair at Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London (UK)
- Service user involvement in social work education - Marion Laging, Professor for Social Work, Hochschule Esslingen (Germany)
Bridging the digital divide, training and recruiting the future social service workforce
- Bridging the digital divide in social work education and practice - Ellen Belluomini, Lecturer and Blogger, Dominican University (US)
- Developing a diverse workforce through an adaptive system based on partnership and innovation - Colum Conway, Director, Northern Ireland Social Care Council (UK)
- Addressing challenges in the recruitment of social workers in social services - Nicole Wagner, Director of Social Services, Canton Basel (Switzerland)
Practical approaches to workforce planning
- Imagining the future: possible scenarios for the 2025 social services’ workforce - Kerry Musselbrook, Project Manager, Evidence-informed practice, Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) (UK)
- The changing complexity of social work in France - Christian Moutier, Independent Consultant, Expertise France (France)
- The Slovak social service workforce in the domestic and foreign labour markets - Michal Páleník, Research Fellow, Institute of Economic Research (Slovakia)
Training and manging the workforce – current and future developments
- The role of the workforce in implementing integrated care for older people - Laura Pey and Gabriel Llagostera, Technical Advisers in Human Resources, SUMAR (Spain)
- Welfare technology for the social service workforce - Dennis C. Søndergård, Senior Adviser for Welfare Technology, Nordic Centre for Social Welfare (Denmark)
- How to become a dementia-friendly city – learning from Foton in Bruges - Bart Deltour, Founder of Foton, Family Care West-Flanders (Belgium)