Health & Social Care

Health and social care is an especially broad career sector. Jobs in health are about helping people having problems with their physical health, while jobs in social care are concerned with helping vulnerable people in the community, providing them with support to improve their standard of living.

Jobs in healthcare

Many different career paths are available for people from all different kinds of academic backgrounds. Careers in healthcare are much more likely to require a combination of further study and on-the-job medical training, whereas careers in social care are more likely to start with on-the-job training and allow people to work towards professional qualifications later on in their career.

The NHS (National Health Service) is the largest employer in Europe and the fifth largest in the whole world, with 1.7 million employees, however many private institutions also employ people in the healthcare arena. A large number of these people are employed as doctors, dentists, paramedics, nurses and midwives, but plenty more are engaged within managerial, I.T. and administration work.

There are many different specialist careers available within the healthcare system, including: clinical support staff, such as donor carers and new-born hearing screeners; allied health professionals, such as radiographers and orthoptists; and specialist therapy staff, such as occupational therapists, speech therapists and art therapists.

Jobs in social care

There are also many different paths to take when pursuing a career in social care. Social care work can be done in a variety of different environments: in people’s own homes, in residential care units, in shelters for the homeless, and in young offender institutes. However, people tend to specialise in one area, which is defined by the kind of service users they work with and their specific type of social problems, such as domestic violence, asylum, or mental health.

Most people will have heard of social workers. These specialists operate at a more senior level and deal with the complex problems of service users with critical social needs. They assess the specific needs of individuals and offer them expert advice and support. They also work closely with social care workers and direct them in what extra specialist care the service user should receive.

Social care workers tend to be more actively involved with providing personal and hands-on care to service users. The professionals employed in this area of work include: people who provide physical support for people with mobility issues, counsellors who provide mental health advice and support, and advisors who support people who are looking to foster.

Many areas of social care also require support staff who do not provide active care functions, such as managers and administrative support staff.

Health & social care apprenticeships 

School leavers wanting to work in this sector could do an Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) after taking their GCSEs, and train in roles like healthcare support worker, substance misuse worker, mental health support or outreach worker and re-enablement worker.

They could then do an Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) in roles like relief team leader, social work assistant, social services officer, community outreach worker and senior healthcare assistant. School leavers with A-levels could also access these schemes.

School leavers could also look at the health and social care courses on offer at further education college. 

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