Twenty-year journey for the social service workforce

Social service workers and the key role they have played in supporting some of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens during COVID-19 have quite rightly been recognised as a vital part of the health and social care system.
Their prominence and recognition come at the same time as a significant milestone are reached in the regulation of social service workers, marking a 20-year journey towards a trusted, qualified and safe workforce. Today is the deadline for the last group of workers required to register.

Lorraine Gray, SSSC Chief Executive said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the social care, social work and early years workforce into the public eye and shown that they are a professional, qualified and skilled workforce with parity alongside other similar roles, such as health.

‘The aspiration of the original legislation passed almost 20 years ago to protect people who use social services is coming to fruition with people in social care and early years joining social work to create a fully qualified, accountable workforce.

‘The stories we’ve heard from the sector about how they’ve coped in the most challenging circumstances are just awe-inspiring and it’s these individuals who have helped services to continue delivering high-quality care to the people who need it most.

‘What comes through most of all is the values and compassion of workers, many of whom could never imagine doing anything else, such is their commitment and dedication.

‘The Scottish Government’s independent review of adult social care is an opportunity to acknowledge those workers, giving them not only the recognition they deserve for the life-changing work they do but also the opportunity to change the way society values their role.

‘Adult social care alone contributes more than £13bn each year to the Scottish economy, which is more than agriculture, forestry and fishing, so the economic importance of social services shouldn’t be overlooked either.’

Regulation of Care

The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 set a vision for a registered, qualified and professional social service workforce with Codes of Practice setting the behaviours and values every worker must work to.

It meant social service workers in a wide range of roles; from social workers to day care of children workers and care home workers to residential childcare workers; have to register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

SSSC registration requires workers to hold, or be working towards, a relevant qualification for their role and work to the SSSC Codes of Practice.

A trusted, skilled and confident workforce

  • One in 13 people employed in Scotland work in social services.
  • The adult social care sector contributes £13.4bn a year to the economy.
  • The last group of workers the SSSC Register opened to was support workers in care at home and housing support in October 2017. Some 61,920 of them were registered by the deadline of 30 September 2020.
  • There are 166,282 people on the SSSC Register working in a range of roles.
  • This represents 80% of the total social service workforce in Scotland, as not all roles require to register, for example directly employed personal assistants.


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