Scottish colleges provide 1,800 funded places for course to help boost care worker numbers

Scotland’s colleges are hoping a new online course will help boost the number of people working in the social care sector.

There will be 1,800 funded spaces for the new Introduction to a Career in Social Care online course, which is designed to bring more trained people into the area of work at a time when the country faces a serious skills gap.

The places are available to students across Scotland’s colleges and, with more than one third of social care services having struggled with unfilled jobs in the past year, it is hoped the collaboration between the College Development Network (CDN), the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and local employers will reverse the trend.

Jim Metcalfe, chief executive of the CDN, said: “It is clear that demand for trained carers is outstripping supply and this is leading the care sector to crisis point in Scotland.

“We are aware of the growing demand for short, focused training courses that are specific to economic sectors and that help people secure employment opportunities.

“This course is absolutely an example of that and of Scotland’s college sector meeting the needs of the job market and society at large.”

The course, which has funding from the National Transition Training Fund from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council, will see students study part-time for six weeks with support from a dedicated tutor.

Amanda MacDonald, a student at West College Scotland, said the course gave her a good insight into the sector.

“I’d applied for a few care jobs, but the answer was always the same, that I needed some experience,” she said.

“I was a little apprehensive about starting (the course), but knew I had to do it if I wanted to get anywhere.

“I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed the case studies. It’s given me a really good insight into what a job in care will actually be like and given me the skills to do it.”

According to the SSSC, ongoing staffing issues are the result of too few applicants with qualifications or experience.

And Audit Scotland warned recently that despite annual spending of £5 billion on care services in Scotland, some of these are near crisis point.

Darlene Hogg, curriculum manager for health and social care at Ayrshire College, said employers had seen the importance of linking up with colleges.

“Some students at many colleges throughout Scotland, from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway, and including West College Scotland and Ayrshire College, have started the introduction course, and on completion will be ideally positioned to build on this foundation of knowledge either directly in the workplace or with further study,” she said.

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