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Recruitment and Retention in Social Services: Unlocking the sector's recruitment potential

Recruitment and Retention in Social Services: Unlocking the sector's recruitment potential

Lethbridge, Jane ORCID: 0000-0002-0094-9967 (2017) Recruitment and Retention in Social Services: Unlocking the sector's recruitment potential. Technical Report. Social Services Europe, Brussels.

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This report was commissioned by Social Services Europe to present the case for increasing investment in the social services sector so that new jobs can be created to meet the growing demand for social services. The recruitment and retention of workers is a problem that faces the sector now and in the future but it is also an opportunity to develop social services which meet changing social needs. To do this, the social services sector will need investment, a supportive legislative framework, an active social dialogue and recognition of its value to the economy and society.

The term ‘social services’ has slightly different meanings across Europe but it is defined in this report as including:
• Long-term care and support for older people;
• Care and support for people with disabilities;
• Child care;
• Other social services, for example, family support, services for people with mental health problems, substance abuse, homelessness, which all promote social inclusion.

With the growing demand for social services, this sector has become one of the most rapidly growing economic sectors, generating 7% of total economic output in EU28. This rate has remained stable even after the financial crisis of 2008, with an increase of 1.7 million jobs between 2008 and 2015. As the sector is one of the fastest growing economic sectors, it is becoming obvious that its economic potential has to be more widely recognised and should inform the development of employment strategies at national and EU level. An expanding social services sector not only benefits the provision of social services but as more people are employed and so consume more goods, this has a multiplier effect on employment and growth in other sectors. The context within which policies for recruitment and retention are implemented shapes the likely effect of these policies (Kroezen et al, 2015; European Social Network, 2016). The conditions of the job market, for example, levels of unemployment or structural problems such as skills shortages, will affect the ability of organisations to recruit social services workers. Consequently, the expansion of the social services sector has to be addressed in the context of wider employment trends at EU and national levels.

One of the most important findings of this research is that organisations have found that recruitment has to be the responsibility of the whole organisation, not just the human resources department. Both management and front-line workers have to be involved in the process of deciding what types of jobs are needed and the expertise and experience required to do the job. In order to make recruitment and retention a central issue for the organisation, they have to be seen as part of the planning process. Wider involvement of all parts of the organisation in recruitment and retention has also shown that a more holistic approach to organisational development helps to integrate social services workers into the design and delivery of services. Organisations have to value their workers and should create structures, for example, new training departments, which bring workers and management together to identify organisational priorities and ways of implementing new organisational strategies.

Social services organisations that work closely with local educational institutions and universities can provide extra opportunities for placements and work experience. The interaction between organisations and vocational training has led to ways of influencing training programmes, becoming involved in curriculum design and a greater responsiveness and matching of qualifications and skills to user needs.

Item Type: Monograph (Technical Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: social services, recruitment, retention, job creation, Europe
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
Last Modified: 01 May 2020 14:43

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