'Breaking the mould' for the workforce of the future

Published on 15 Jun 2012

A partnership project of IRISS and SSSC, Workforce of the Future aims to bring key people from across social services organisations to work up and implement a number of creative ideas for shaping the future social services workforce.

On Monday 11 June, a kick-off event was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Edinburgh, which brought together 60key people from various social services organisations, with the aim of identifying the main challenges facing the workforce. The day was only about identifying challenges, and not solutions.Following brief introductions from Garry Coutts (SSSC) and Sandy Cameron (IRISS), there were lively and energising warm-ups organised by David and Lucy from 100% Open, who facilitated the full day.

To begin to tease out some of the issues, 10 groups of six people worked up personas for four individuals - a newly qualified social worker, a care home worker, a young offender and a care at home worker. Teams had to put themselves in these individual's shoes and work out what their challenges were, their aims and influences. An example of a persona for a newly qualified social worker included: the influence of policy and the continuous learning framework, the importance of talking and face-to-face work, the need to evidence their practice, the need to be IT literate, optimistic, wanting to make a difference, worried about making mistakes and weight of responsibility.

Based on the issues highlighted from the personas worked up by the groups, a problem definition task followed, which involved each group choosing one persona and identifying what they considered to be the biggest challenge to that individual. A number of key challenges emerged from the exercise. These included:

  • How to keep the middle aged workforce in work for longer
  • Increasing parents capacity to parent (in respect of young offenders)
  • Flexible deployment of staff, including issues of changing cultures, training, and dealing with differences
  • How to maintain personalised care in economic climate - time monitored and task-led
  • Accountability and risk aversion
  • How care workers can feel valued considering their pay packet - minimum wage, no training, not registered
  • Need for better procurement
  • How to prevent young people re-offending
  • Acquiring professional skills to support individuals
  • Vibrant integration for health improvement
  • Valuing emotional intelligence, ensuring that personalised practice is built on strong interpersonal skills
  • How to measure the impact of interventions and support

To take this forward, IRISS, SSSC and 100% Open will select a number of these challenges, which will then be worked up into creative ideas and subsequently supports. An online platform will launch at the beginning of July so that peope can begin to talk about, and offer thoughts and ideas on how these challenges can be developed.