Funding Registration (And Beyond)

Neil Macleod from the Voluntary Sector Social Services Workforce Unit takes a whirlwind look at the challenges and costs involved in registering staff and assisting with their personal development…

There are approximately 138,000 staff working in the Scottish social services sector according to the 2004 Labour Force Survey. A more detailed analysis of the facts behind the figures reveals that the voluntary sector has grown faster than any other area of the social service workforce during the past decade, and now accounts for a quarter of the total number of employees.

The SSSC’s registration process began in April 2003 with phase one, which includes the registration of social workers, staff in residential child care services and managers of adult residential and day care services.  Approximately 37% of staff working in Care Homes for Children and Young People are based in the voluntary sector.  Phase two begins in October 2006 with the registration of workers in early education and child care – the remaining staff in adult residential care will begin registering in 2007 and the register for housing support staff should open in 2009.  A recent study of Scotland’s Social Services Labour Market indicated that it is this ‘phase two’ group where many voluntary sector staff are based:
– Approximately 19% of employees working in care homes for adults are based within the voluntary sector;
– Approximately 21% of employees in ‘support services’ (housing support and day care) are based within the voluntary sector.

The Scottish Executive and the SSSC envisage a future with a ‘competent, confident workforce…. flexible, responsive and prioritises service users’ needs’.  The registration of the social services workforce is a crucial first step to this worthy aspiration. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring organisations develop a ‘learning culture’ with an emphasis on personal development. Allied to this, however, is a need for sufficient financial resources and support to convert this dream into a reality. Funding sources such as the Voluntary Sector Development Fund have been introduced primarily to assist employers to comply with registration requirements, while ESF projects such as ‘Achieving the Challenge’ have helped hundreds of employees to achieve required SVQ Levels 2,3 and 4 in Health and Social Care. 

Additional funding streams will be required if organisations are to continue to comply with registration requirements.  Projects such as ‘Return to Learn’ have equipped employees with the skills to undertake vocational and academic qualifications, while initiatives such as the ‘Recognising Prior Learning’ project will help employees to obtain vocational and academic qualifications in future without unnecessary duplication of time and resources.  

Service commissioners should also recognise the cost of helping staff to develop, and the National Strategy for the Development of the Social Service Workforce indicates that “Commissioning bodies and service providers….should be working towards 3% of service costs as a commitment to training and development.”  Some local authorities have been building these costs into their service level agreements, but this support has been sporadic and inconsistent across Scotland. At least one local authority has been providing 3% of service costs to support learning and development but has recently asked voluntary organisations in their area to find a way of halving this cost.   ‘Full Cost Recovery’ for services still remains a distant vision on the horizon, although some progress has been made in recent times.

Employers are also expected to contribute to the costs of equipping staff with the required skills, and the National Strategy indicates all employers should be reviewing their current spend to comply with registration requirements and identifying a percentage of their total service budget for workforce development.

There remains, however, a lack of information about the true cost of complying with registration requirements and ensuring staff continue to develop the skills they require.
Cost of Registration

The SSSC’s 2004 ‘Implementation of Phase One qualification criteria’ report took the first major steps to costing the registration process.  The report estimated the cost of delivering vocational qualifications:
– An SVQ level 3 award costs approximately £2,725 -£3,620 – (this does not include staff replacement costs, which the report estimated would cost a further £2,622) and therefore makes the ‘true’ cost of delivering an SVQ Level 3 approximately £6,000.
– The Registered Managers Award is estimated to cost approximately £3,510.

The report concluded that the cost of qualifying the residential child care workforce and heads of residential care services is expected to be around £45M over the period 2003/04 – 2008/09 – an average of £7.5M per annum.

Phase two focuses on three areas – staff working in Care Homes for Adults, Early Education and Childcare and Support Services – and the vast majority of staff within the voluntary sector fall into these categories.  Many of these staff will be required to undertake an SVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care or a similar award – Managers will also be expected to hold a managerial qualification such as the Registered Managers Award or the recently developed Certificate in Care Services Management.

The cost of registering staff as part of phase two should become clearer once the SSSC and the Executive have begun analysing the cost of an SVQ Level 2 (the standard registerable requirement for the vast majority of workers in this group) and developed a profile of the staff within these services requiring qualifications.    However, the costs inherent in ensuring employees have the requisite knowledge and skills to perform their role and develop new skills does not end at registration.

Cost of Post Registration Training and Learning

All workers registered with the SSSC will also be required to undertake Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL) to ensure their “continued suitability for registration”.
The PRTL requirements have already been set for various groups – all staff registering under phase one, for example, will have to undertake a minimum of fifteen days (or ninety hours) of “study, training, courses, seminars, reading, teaching or other activities which could reasonably be expected to advance….professional development” during each three year registration period.

The requirements for phase two workers have still to be finalised, although an SSSC consultation has proposed early education and child care workers and adult residential care workers undertake ten days of PRTL during each five year registration period. The SSSC will undertake a consultation about the proposed PRTL requirements for Housing Support Services in due course.
The current drive to ensure the limited resources are channelled towards compliance with registration is understandable, as organisations must primarily ensure their staff achieve the necessary statutory requirements.

A registered workforce will still have to “keep up to date with achievements in policy and practice” however, and the 2005 ‘Continuous Professional Development for the Social Services Workforce in Scotland” report by Kate Skinner reiterates the importance of removing the barriers to this.

Employers must review their systems and develop processes and structures to support employee development (the National Strategy suggests employers should have such systems in place by October 2006). Skinner’s paper suggests organisations should consider developing a website to facilitate access for staff to learning and development opportunities.

The regional Learning Networks have a vital part to play in delivering PRTL by developing new training programmes and bringing employers together to share access to their training courses. Initiatives such as the Centres for Excellence and the Learning Exchange also have a crucial role to fulfil in this area, while at least one University is trialling a ‘forum’ which will bring peers together to discuss work-related issues. There will, however, also be a need for financial support to ensure organisations can develop these systems, participate in these initiatives and ultimately provide their staff with the opportunities to continue their development.

Quantifying the monetary cost of PRTL for organisations is difficult, as the flexibility of learning opportunities makes it difficult to assess the financial implications for voluntary organisations.
The SSSC ‘Implementation of Phase One Qualification Criteria’ report, tentatively estimated the cost of PRTL for Social Workers could be as high as £88 per day (this equates to salary costs).
The ‘Implementation’ Report noted that organisations may not incur replacement costs for Social

Workers undertaking PRTL as it is thought that most agencies do not replace this staff group while they attend training. This may be true for Social Workers, but organisations will require replacement personnel for frontline staff in order to deliver services and comply with regulatory requirements.
Estimates suggest there are 1,100 social workers in the voluntary sector. If these employees are undertaking 15 days of PRTL at the estimated rate of £88 per day would produce a total cost of £1.45m during the three year registration period.

{mospagebreak}If we were to assume three quarters of voluntary sector staff working in care homes for adults have to register as part of phase two and have to comply with the proposed PRTL requirements (at the lower cost of £72 per day, a second employer estimate for PRTL highlighted in the SSSC’s August 2004 report) a total bill of £4.16m for voluntary organisations during the five year registration period would be produced.

Once again, it is important to emphasise the tentative nature of these calculations. Costing PRTL is difficult because there is no recognised training course and we do not have any precedents in the sector to analyse. These rudimentary figures are designed to raise as many questions as answers and to reiterate the point that the cost of developing staff does not end at registration. These estimates are speculative – they do not take into account training already offered by employers which may meet PRTL requirements, and some voluntary organisations may feel obligated to increase their innovative training budget further to attain competitive advantage or provide their staff with the skills relevant to their particular circumstances. They do, however, act as a basis for discussion and a reminder that employers will still have to spend a considerable amount of money developing their staff if we are to achieve a learning culture.

Finally, it is important to remember that these sums are in addition to the cost of ensuring staff comply with registration requirements, and incur continuously.

The registration of the workforce is the most prevailing issue for employers at present, but there will be additional considerations and costs for organisations to bear. The SSSC is currently developing a framework which provides guidance in relation to induction, for example – such an initiative will be welcomed by the sector but many voluntary organisations will have to create new infrastructure or processes as a consequence. Employees also have to continue complying with other demands – child protection and manual handling training, for example. Organisations will also have additional costs to consider such as administration, training materials and travelling – the ‘Achieving the Challenge’ project provided funding for the wage costs incurred by Assessors travelling to visit a candidate, but these ‘hidden’ costs are usually picked up by the employer or the employee themselves.

The Future…

The 2005 ‘Scotland’s Social Services Labour Market’ report indicates approximately 18% of staff working in social services does not have any qualifications.

The SSSC’s 2004 report ‘Fit for the Future’ estimates 53% of staff working in Day Care (Adults and Older People Services) possess no qualifications.

We may have expected the youngest cohort of staff to be the most likely to hold relevant vocational qualifications in social services but the Scottish Executive’s study of the labour market proved that this is not necessarily so. The issues involved in ensuring your employees have the qualifications to register with the SSSC are as relevant to their younger employees as they are to the elder staff, and this pattern is consistent throughout the sector.

Funding sources such as ‘Achieving the Challenge’ are now approaching the end of their lifespan, but in November 2005 the Scottish Executive announced that the Voluntary Sector Development Fund would be extended for a further two years, while the Executive is currently undertaking a major review of its funding sources to streamline and simplify the support it provides to the sector.

Public, private and voluntary sector organisations will have to find imaginative ways of working in partnership to get the most out of the limited resources available. The National Strategy illustrates the example of the early education and childcare sector, where funding to facilitate compliance with registration requirements is given to local authorities in the first instance but distributed to the public, private and voluntary sectors in conjunction with the local childcare partnerships. The National

Strategy also highlights the need for organisations to access underutilised sources of funding such as Individual Learning Accounts and the Scottish Union Learning Fund.

At this time of great change it is imperative that organisations become aware of the relevant funding streams for learning and development. The Voluntary Sector Social Services Workforce Unit is in the process of publishing ‘Navigating the Funding Streams 2’, which contains information on a variety of funding sources to support employees with prior learning, registration and PRTL requirements, as well as providing guidance on completing application forms. Copies of ‘Navigating 2’ will be distributed to our mailing list, and the guide will also be available to download from our website. If you’d like to receive a copy please contact the Workforce Unit on 01786 849752 or e-mail Laura Weir at [email protected]

Considerable progress has been made in recent years, although there is still much to do. Organisations will have to develop new systems and ways of working while sustained financial support will be required if we are to realise the dream of a learning culture and a “confident, competent workforce.”

Neil Macleod would welcome your comments on this article. Please e-mail [email protected]

More information about the Workforce Unit is available at


– Labour Force Survey 2004
– Scottish Executive, 2005, National Strategy for the Development of the Social Service Workforce
– Scottish Executive, 2006, Changing Lives (21st Century Social Work Review)
– Scottish Executive, 2006, Scotland’s Social Service Labour Market: 2nd Report of National Workforce Group
– Skinner, 2005, Continuous Professional Development for the Social Services Workforce in Scotland
– SSSC 2004, Continuous Professional Development
– SSSC 2004, Fit for the Future
– SSSC, 2004, Implementation of Phase One Criteria