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It is undeniable that in order to deliver effective, quality social services, a well-trained, resilient workforce is key. However, there are significant challenges related to workforce retention and recruitment facing the sector. 

This is why managing the future workforce will be one of the three key thematic strands of the 32nd European Social Services Conference (ESSC) taking place from 26-28th June 2024, giving delegates the opportunity to learn about innovative solutions and various planning and management strategies co-designed with the social services workforce themselves to address these challenges. 

Titled ‘Co-creating Future Social Services,’ the conference will host sessions over the three days that focus on ways to address the issues faced by the social services workforce, and how this can be done in conjunction with professionals in the sector. 

Workforce Reform

Acknowledging the increasing demand for social services amid budget constraints and recruitment challenges, the session ‘Promoting Workforce Reform’ will emphasise the pivotal role of professionals in co-creating solutions to support the workforce. Presentations from Northern Ireland, France, and Romania are set to showcase diverse approaches to workforce reform, highlighting the importance of integrating practitioner insights when addressing the sector’s challenges. 

In another session, the European Commission will focus on co-creation of effective policy responses to address the multi-faceted challenges faced by the long-term care workforce, including enhancing working conditions and attracting a diverse pool of talent. As part of this, it will also explore how to convince more men to work in the care sector. 

On 25th June, the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG), will host a free side event, ‘Putting a Human Face on Social Services,’ where they will discuss best practice on tackling addressing challenges in the social services sector, whilst reintroducing a personal touch in interactions citizens and public services and the workforce. 

Training and Upskilling

Training and upskilling are vital components for enhancing workforce capabilities. With this in mind, a training workshop on conflict de-escalation organised by the Regional Government of Central Denmark will give delegates an understanding of some of the challenges and emotional demands faced by social services staff in situations where conflict is present. 

During the conference project forum, the Health and Information Quality Authority from Ireland will present their project which seeks to address the limited time for health and social care staff to access necessary training. Through co-creation, the project harnesses an online course, striving to be responsive to staff requirements and inform future resource design.

Integrating Lived Experience in the Workforce

Integrating lived experience into the workforce is paramount to ensuring responsiveness and inclusivity. In their workshop ‘Embedding Peer Support into Service Design and Delivery,’ Genio, Ireland will share best practice on incorporating lived experience in the social services workforce through peer support roles that provide valuable cultural insight and knowledge for practitioners. 

Shared decision-making lies at the heart of providing person-centred care. Recognising this, in their sessionTNO, the Netherlands, and the Consortium of Retirement Homes in Vienna, Austria, will offer attendees practical insights into embedding shared decision-making within social service practices, fostering empowerment, inclusion, and collaboration.

Co-creating and Managing the Future Workforce

The Plenary Session, ‘Co-creating and Managing the Future Workforce,’ underscores the importance of leveraging emerging technologies, fostering inclusive partnerships, and empowering communities. The keynote speakers will look at innovation in coproduction with the social work and social care workforce and how successful entrepreneurial approaches from the private sector can be applied in social services. 

Join the Conversation on Enhancing the Social Services Workforce!

With presentations conducted in multiple languages and a diverse array of perspectives, this year’s conference will serve as a nexus for dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and collective action. Participants will converge to explore strategies for workforce enhancement, future readiness, and person-centred care, reaffirming dedication to promoting social inclusion, and well-being for all. 

With more than 400 delegates from 30 countries already registered, the stage is set for vibrant discussions and impactful collaborations. Register now to join the conversation!