(24 April 2023) Last week, EPSU participated in the online launch event of the ‘Partnership for Skills in Long Term Care – Driving Up Training and Life Long Learning’, organised by the project lead, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities. EPSU was represented by Tuscany Bell, Policy Coordinator for Social Services and Youth. The event was opened by Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who emphasised the importance of long term learning and the long term career development of care workers. He highlighted that around 1.5 million care workers are needed in the European Union. Training and life long learning for care workers is important, not only to deliver better quality services, but also because this makes the profession more attractive for new workers. In the care sector, 58% of long term health and care workers received training that was paid for by the employer, however Western European member states with established long term care sectors dominate this estimate. Training is below 2% in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Further, non-residential, self-employed care workers are much harder to reach, and non-European care workers are less likely to participate too.
In the EPSU intervention, Tuscany Bell emphasised that training is very important for the wellbeing and the safety of social service workers as well as for professional development. In terms of career progression, higher qualifications and the development of new skills must go hand in hand with salary increases and a shift in tasks and responsibilities. This is especially important for the attractiveness of the sector. The importance of training should be further emphasised in light of the digital transformations and the shift towards homecare that are taking place. These trainings should be developed by social partners, following joint risk assessments so that the needs of the workers in the work place can be addressed directly, as well as the needs of the employers and service users. A higher skilled workforce can provide higher quality care, in particular in terms of social and emotional skills which are the essence of care and care provision. Nonetheless, higher skills cannot compensate for staff shortages – no matter how highly skilled the workforce is, if there is a lack of staff, the workers will not have the time to use their skills for the benefit of the care recipients.
The event took place on Thursday, April 20.