Headlines: March 27th, 2003

The next three years will see an unprecedented growth of investment in social care. The key targets are to bring another 50,000 people into the workforce, and to enable an additional 300,000 staff to gain at least NVQ Level 2 qualifications. There will be support for social care employers in developing the workforce and tackling serious problems of recruitment and retention and they will be urged to form local partnerships to make the best use of the existing and new resources for workforce development. The Department of Health wants comments from all sectors of the social services world and from the wider public on its plans.It is planned to provide funding to support employers with the development of their HR policy and practice and to tackle recruitment and retention. There will also be funds for pilot projects in partnership with the Changing Workforce programme of the NHS Modernisation Agency.

The Department is concerned that many local councils have failed to make use of the existing Training Support Programme grant to assist with the costs of providing training for staff of voluntary or private agencies. It is now considering whether a condition should be imposed so that a proportionate amount of the new grants is spent on staff development of workers in the contracted agencies.

The consultation will include looking at developing better training opportunities, and seeking new ideas on how to use staff. Views are also being sought on the contribution of the private and voluntary sectors and how their role in social care can be enhanced. The consultation period ends on 23 April 2003. Comments should be sent to sct-team@doh.gsi.gov.uk.