The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how important the health and social care sectors are and the challenges they face.
This week Central London Forward (CLF) launched our Health and Social Care Outcomes Agreement which we have developed in partnership with Shared Intelligence. The agreement, which is the first of its kind in the UK, aims to address some of the key employment and skills challenges facing the sectors which are a priority for the CLF area. In eight of our 12 boroughs, health and social care is one of the top three employers.
Outcomes agreements aim to ensure that skills provision responds to local economic need. They bring local partners – including employers, skills providers, and local government – together to agree priorities for a sector or area, the outcomes that need to be achieved, and their respective roles in achieving them. The concept which was promoted in the UK by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the Association of Colleges is a potentially powerful tool in local skills devolution.
Our Health and Social Care Outcomes Agreement is the product of engagement through workshops and discussions with our boroughs, employers and skills providers. It represents stakeholders’ priorities for residents entering the two sectors. Within the agreement, eight priority outcome areas are underpinned by a set of activities and metrics to achieve them.
The agreement will create better pathways into employment in the sectors for our residents, deliver better quality jobs, and to ensure employees have the skills their employers need and ultimately improve the quality of care.
We will work with our boroughs to begin trialling the implementation of the agreement on a small scale initially, with an aim to cascade this approach across our member boroughs. The launch event today will help kickstart these conversations and will be the beginning of a much larger body of work across the central London area and beyond.
CLF hope that this outcomes agreement can be built on through work in other priority sectors such as construction and hospitality, and that it might inform the approach to outcomes- based commission of the Adult Education Budget, which the Greater London Authority (GLA) is developing following skills devolution.
The CLF Health and Social Care Outcomes Agreement is a step to address some of the employment and skills challenges facing the health and social care sectors. But it is only piece of a much wider puzzle. The sectors face significant issues; adult social care had a 29% staff turnover in London in 2019/20, and a 9.5% vacancy rate. (Skills for Care, 2020). We support the comments made by the Care Quality Commission that there is a need for a new deal for the health and social care workforce (Care Quality Commission, 2020). Reform is needed at a national legislative level to properly address many of the challenges the sectors face.
We hope though that this agreement will still help to make a real difference. The outcomes agreement will bring better collaboration between local authorities, employers, and skills providers in the health and social care sectors. It represents a genuine opportunity to support residents and equip them with the skills they need to enter decent work in a central London priority sector.
Chris Haley – 21.6.2021