2020 recruitment – Neil Eastwood

Images of carers and clients


Our thanks to guest blogger Neil Eastwood for this 2020 recruitment round-up for the social care sector. Neil is the author of Saving Social Care and the founder and CEO of Care Friends, the employee referral app for the care sector, operated in partnership with Skills for Care.


At the beginning of 2020 I was expecting another year of the same for social care recruitment; a further tightening of the labour market and gradually worsening staff turnover. Then add in upcoming immigration restrictions to top off a difficult 2020. With high street retail continuing to shed jobs, there was a potential source of local available labour. However the sector would struggle, as it always has, with both awareness and attraction, so conversions would likely be disappointing.

What has actually happened has upended that prediction. Unemployment has doubled and we are in a deep recession, but Government interventions such as the Furlough Scheme, and negative media reporting the challenges faced by care homes, make things much more complex from a recruitment perspective. Data from Indeed show only a modest increase of 15% in care job ad clicks from pre-Covid February to May, deep into the first wave of the pandemic. Employers reported strong interest from job seekers early on, which has largely tailed off.

I am pleased to say, however, that things have been more much more positive on the retention side. A combination of a perceived lack of alternative employment and a strong sense of duty drove staff turnover down despite temporary staff losses due to shielding or self-isolation. We await the official figures but I estimate a 5-7% improvement in staff churn during the year for many employers.

The new staff cohorts who joined in March now appear to reflect a much bigger representation from sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, such as; hospitality, aviation, leisure and the arts. From my analysis, hospitality represented 15% of named previous occupations for care staff, and aviation, leisure and the arts hardly registered at all, making up a few percent between them. That is likely to be much different now, and the question of course will be, with vaccinations in sight and a recovery in those sectors likely – how many of those will stay with us when we return to something like normality?

What’s in store for 2021?

We can be confident that the economic outlook is going to improve markedly, although high street retail will continue to decline. I don’t think the year will start well for social care recruiters if the current immigration policy decisions around our exit from the Single Market remain in place. This will hit London-based employers and the wider live-in care sector particularly hard.

As the labour market improves, potentially with a rapid bounce-back, then both a reduction in job seekers and a flight of displaced workers, who have been biding their time in the care workforce until their previous occupations begin rehiring, could be on the cards. We will also have a workforce that has been through exceptionally tough times and might seek a change.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The move to video interviewing has seen no-show rates plummet and many providers intend to stick with this selection method. We might even see the improved police check turnaround times stay, too. Both of those will shorten hiring times and reduce funnel leakage, which can only be a great thing. A push towards technology across the sector driven by recruiters working remotely has seen interest in recruitment software such as applicant tracking systems and an openness to innovation and new ways of working. There are also signs of an increased adoption of automation in other lower paid sectors due to the pandemic. Particularly in the service sector, such as check-in kiosks in hotels and self-service supermarket checkouts, which could lead to further redundancies. But the full impact of job displacement through automation is some years off.


If you enjoyed Neil’s 2020 recruitment round up come back next week for Neil’s top recruitment tips for 2021!

Sign up to stay connected

We want to make sure you never miss one of our events, blogs, or whitepapers. Sign up to stay connected with Cohesion