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Leaders from across the social care sector and graduate recruitment have published their business case to develop a new Social Care Leaders Scheme. Building on the success of Teach First and other similar graduate programmes, the Social Care Leaders Scheme aims to bring a whole new cadre of leadership talent into social care.  

The CareTech Foundation commissioned the business case following its earlier funding of a feasibility study that demonstrated the clear interest of the sector in such a scheme.  Funding for the project was provided by CareTech Foundation, Anchor Hanover, Hallmark Care Homes Foundation and Kent County Council.

The imperative for bringing in new talent could not be clearer. As is highlighted in the Business Case, at the critical first management role of Registered Manager, 12.5% of roles are vacant, 32% of current incumbents are over 55 years and turnover is a worrying 25%. These statistics highlight the importance that the Social Care Leaders Scheme could play in attracting new talent to these key roles and to the sector more generally. 

The Scheme seeks to help tackle the recruitment and retention challenges of the sector, as well as enhancing the leadership skills to help instil long-term change. Building on the success of Teach First, Police Now and other similar graduate programmes, the Social Care Leaders Scheme would bring in a new level of talent into social care. The Scheme is designed to recruit graduates and graduate apprentices to develop a cadre of new leaders who can initially be fast-tracked through their leadership development to become Registered Managers in two years, as the first step on their leadership journey in the sector.  

The Social Care Leaders Scheme's purpose is to attract and develop over 1,000 talented and inspirational new local leaders from outside the sector over the three two-year cohorts.  Importantly, the new scheme would be rooted in the powerful charitable purpose of improving the quality of social care in the UK.  The key elements of the proposal are: 

  • Participants would undergo a rigorous selection process. 
  • They would be provided with an initial, intense residential training programme. 
  • All those on the programme would be recruited to entry-level front-line care roles. 
  • Further training, mentorship and support would be provided over the following two years. 
  • Participants would provide care in a range of settings to broaden their experience. 
  • They would l be expected to be supported through an accelerated progression to a Deputy Manager. 
  • They would also be expected to achieve a Level 5 qualification in Social Care and a Master's qualification will be available. 
  • At the end of their two years, and subject to CQC approval, the expectation would be that participants would be ready to secure a position as Registered Manager.  

The Scheme would be a charitable venture and would be run on an entirely not-for-profit basis. The Business Case proposes that the social care sector meets 61% of the costs of the programme with the Government funding the remaining 39%, with a costs model based on a sliding scale of contribution for different provider sizes.  This would ensure that the Scheme supports the whole sector and all different sizes of providers.  

Professor David Grayson CBE, Chair of the Steering Group overseeing development of the Scheme and Chair of Trustees of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Social care plays a vital public role. There is an urgent need to encourage the brightest and best talent into the sector and to make it a desirable career of choice.  Whilst we absolutely support all attempts to develop and nurture staff already employed in the sector, our research shows that the need to bring in additional capacity is essential and urgent. This Business Case sets out a powerful set of arguments for learning from successful schemes such as Teach First that have transformed leadership in their sectors.” 

CareTech Foundation CEO, Jonathan Freeman MBE, said: “The need for the Social Care Leaders Scheme is evident.  Social care offers fabulous career opportunities. We need to be able to provide a leadership route into the social care sector that brings in a whole new cadre of talent, transforming the image of the sector. There is a very real risk that, without such investment in management and leadership roles, recruitment campaigns will simply be exercises in pouring more water into an increasingly leaky bucket. Alongside our partners, I am confident we can secure Government support to make the Social Care Leaders Scheme a reality.”

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