How can the care sector attract more males for roles?

Closeup of an elderly woman’s hand being held by a doctor , focus on hands

Recently the chief executive of Care England spoke out about the desperate need for more male care workers within the sector – but how can the industry achieve this with current negative perceptions of the job requirements?

When you ask most children what they want to be when they’re older, the likelihood is that they will say a footballer, ballerina, pilot, pop star and so on. It isn’t until they reach adulthood that they realise that such careers – whilst not totally unrealistic – may be a little harder to achieve than other professions. So, should society encourage children from a young age to consider a career within a wider range of industries, such as the care sector?

We think yes – especially with males. Why? According to Professor Martin Green of Care England, more male care workers are needed to look after people. The chief executive of the largest representative body for independent care providers in England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that, “We have an ageing population and a lot of people who receive care into old age now are men. The majority of carers are women. When it comes to personal care in particular, some men prefer this to be done by a male rather than a female.”

Although the lack of male care workers in the UK is a substantial problem for the industry, it is not the only issue facing the sector. In 2014, The Office for National Statistics claimed that England in particular could face a shortfall of 718,000 care workers by 2025 due to a projected increase in the population aged 85 and over – from 1.24m to 2.3m – by 2030.

So why is the care sector suffering to such an extent and what can be done to tackle the problem?

We believe that transforming the negative perceptions surrounding a career in care is the way forward. Care work has for many years been seen as a career for women – but society must understand that a role within the industry is open to everyone. According to a Skills for Care report, some other additional reasons for the long-outstanding gender imbalance included the idea that care work is a career that involves fairly unpleasant tasks, and is low paid.

Whilst the government undoubtedly has a large role to play in transforming these negative perceptions (such as altering school curriculums to include more care-based modules), nothing is stopping chief executives and other senior members of staff within existing residential homes and care bodies from kick starting the mission to reach an equilibrium when it comes to staff – before time runs out.

What do you think social care executives could do to help change the perceptions of a career in the care sector? Let us know your thoughts on our Twitter page.