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A carer helping an elderly woman with her jumper

30 Aug 2022

Workforce data

New data report on Scotland’s care workforce

The size of Scotland’s social work, social care and early years workforce dropped slightly last year to 208,360 people, a drop of 0.6% on 2020, a new report shows.

The report, published by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), shows that despite the small decrease, the sector still makes up approximately 8% of all Scottish employment or one in 13 jobs.

The Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2021 Workforce Data highlights the size and importance of the social work, social care and early years workforce.

Maree Allison, SSSC Acting Chief Executive said: ‘The past two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important the social work, social care and early years workforce is during a time of immense challenge.

‘The sector is not just important in terms of supporting society’s most vulnerable however, as it also makes a major economic contribution and offers a wide range of careers and opportunities, which come with training and qualifications as well as job satisfaction.

‘Just how much people value careers in social work, social care and early years is shown in the report by the fact that just over three quarters of the workforce were in the same job as the previous year.

‘Day care of children saw the biggest increase in workers, where recruitment is continuing to meet the expansion of free early learning and childcare.

‘In contrast, the numbers working in care homes for adults and care at home/housing support have fallen. However, the numbers working in care at home/housing support is still substantially more than it was 10 years ago as more care is being provided in people’s own homes.

‘There are changes ahead as the Scottish Government’s National Care Service Bill progresses and it is a time of opportunity to appropriately recognise and value the social work and social care workforce through improved pay, terms and conditions.

‘As the National Care Service develops, we will continue to support the workforce in every way that we can.’

Key points from this year’s workforce data report

  • The size of the workforce has dropped slightly to 208,360, a fall of 0.6% since 2020. The social service workforce makes up approximately 7.9% of all Scottish employment.
  • This decrease has been driven mainly by decreases in the number of workers in care homes for adults and housing support/care at home sub-sectors, while the day care of children sub-sector grew greatly in contrast.
  • The whole time equivalent (WTE) measure of the workforce is 159,150, a decrease of 0.1% since 2020.
  • The stability index of the workforce is 75.5%. This means just over three-quarters of the workforce remained in the same post since last year.
  • The largest employer type differs between local authority areas, with services in Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar (the three island authorities) provided mainly by the public sector. However, in most areas the private sector is the largest employer.
  • The three largest sub-sectors are housing support/care at home, care homes for adults and day care of children; together these account for almost 79% of the workforce.
  • The median age of the workforce is highest in the public sector (47) and lowest in the private sector (40). Staff working in early years services in the private sector have the lowest median age (28).
  • The percentage of men working in the sector is 15%, although it is around double or greater than that proportion in criminal justice social work and residential children’s services.
  • The workforce is mainly employed on permanent contracts (83%).
  • The median figure for the typical weekly hours worked by staff is 33 and 53% of the workforce work full time (more than 30 hours per week).

The report combines administrative data collected by the Care Inspectorate with data collected by the SSSC directly from local authorities to form a comprehensive picture of the paid workforce employed in the social service sector in Scotland at the end of 2021. The SSSC is an official statistics provider.

Read the Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2021 Workforce Data here.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council