To secure the future of social care, a paradigm shift is needed, focusing on how to attract
and engage Millennials and Generation Z. Long hours, poor pay and negative press have
given working in social care a bad rep. But, as COVID proved, social care workers are

The job needs to become a more highly respected profession because social care providers
make a meaningful difference to the lives of vulnerable members of society.
Social care is all about human connection. It can have a huge impact on people’s lives when
they’re struggling with poor health or old age. There’s a wide variety of jobs available in
social care: ranging from providing essential support, running a care home, specialising in a
particular field, through to working with people in their houses.

As we all know, times and technologies change quickly and careers can become obsolete
almost overnight. But there will always be a role – and a high demand – for care workers. The
sector is desperate for more applicants. In a recent GOV.UK survey, more than three-
quarters of those questioned said they found recruiting social workers more challenging than

There’s a real need for social care, with 1.5 million people currently employed in the sector in
the UK. In 2022, according to a report by Skills for Care, there were 165,000 empty posts in
England – the highest ever on record. And it looks likely there will be a further half a million
positions created and needing to be filled by 2030. Added to this, more than a quarter of
England’s adult social care workers are over 55 and may retire in the next decade.
The sector needs a revolution. One way to sustain it in the future is to encourage younger
generations to take their first steps along the social care career path. We’re talking about
Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born 1997-2012).

There are tangible benefits to hiring these generations. They are typically educated,
motivated and wanting to improve their skill set. But the problem lies in the fact that younger
generations haven’t previously been attracted to social care.

So, how do we go about transforming things? A good place to start is by seeing how
different generations and their formative experiences shape their views of the world. Then
we can work out what really motivates Millennials and Gen Z.

1. Strive for greater purpose
Much of social care work is with elderly people, but there is a way to bridge the divide
between generations. According to a recent Deloitte survey, over a third of 16-44 year-olds
consider an organisation’s purpose before applying for a job. This is a positive for social
care, because what other sector is so focused on improving the lives of others?

Generally, Millennials are known for being socially conscious and empathetic. Similarly, Gen
Z demands purpose and accountability. To attract young people into social care, employers
need to highlight strong values and purpose in their messaging. Companies in the sector
should focus on highlighting the rewards gained from improving other people’s lives, to
encourage young people to view social care as a viable career.

2. Use values-based recruitment
When looking to recruit young people, employers need to value character and potential over
skills. Millennials and Gen Z may not be able to tick every recruitment box, due to a lack of
experience, but if they have the right values then they can learn everything else they might
need while in the role.

While you’re at it, you can also simplify the recruitment process. When it comes to lengthy,
offline applications, young people tend to drop off. Companies can reach new recruits using
the latest online technologies and by keeping it simple.

3. Embrace technology
This leads us onto the next point. The evolution of technology is another generation-shaping
consideration. Millennials came of age during the internet boom, while technology has been
part of Gen Z’s lives from the start. They were the first generation to grow up with the
internet as a part of daily life: think mobile devices, social media, and constant

The social care sector is starting a technological revolution itself, which offers a great chance
to connect with younger generations. If employers can empower younger workers with
technological opportunities – such as using care management software or AI – it could attract
more of them into the sector.

4. Show clear pathways for progression
Professional growth and development is a top priority for most Millennials, while Gen Z is
known for needing clarity on career paths and opportunities. As well as having the chance to
gain formal qualifications, there’s a huge scope to learn on the job in social care. Showing
the sector’s opportunities for career progression is vital to appeal to the younger generation.
And it’s important to ask for and implement employee feedback so that staff can positively
influence their company’s services.

5. Offer tangible benefits
According to a 2023 Deloitte survey, around half of Gen Z and Millennials feel burned out.
To better engage this group, employers should encourage work-life balance, provide mental
health support, offer flexible schedules and respect personal time. Despite some antisocial
hours in a handful of jobs, a career in social care can be flexible and is perfect if you want to
work hours that fit in with your own commitments and lifestyle. Feeling supported is also
vital, so remember to demonstrate that employees will be part of a wider network that
includes health professionals, doctors and social workers too.

6. Work on retention as well as recruitment
There’s little point in recruiting employees if you’re not focusing on retaining them too. From
the very start, companies should understand the needs and expectations of their employees.
They also need to engage in clear and open communication that makes staff feel integral to
the organisation.

Our final word
For companies to be able to recruit younger generations into the social care sector, they
require the ability to evolve and adapt to meet the pace of change. Care providers should
avoid a blanket approach to recruitment; instead, they should look to meet different
employee’s needs. And, of course, that may be influenced by what generation they are from.
Here at crooton, we see recruitment differently. For more information, get in touch with the team.