In the care sector, staff demand is continuing to exceed staff supply. In fact, it has been predicted that this gap will continue to widen: by 2025, it’s estimated that one million more workers will be needed to cope with the UK’s ageing population.
Men in care.
One solution to help combat this growing gap between demand and supply could be to encourage more men to work in health and social care, for example as nurses or care assistants. According to figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council, in 2016 just 11.4% of registered nurses in the UK were male, whilst according to the last UK census men make up just 15.3% of the care sector workforce - just 3 in 20 workers.
A leading nursing expert at the University of Dundee, Jacqueline Eccles, has called for the recruitment talent pool to be widened to attract more men to work as student nurses - she says that men could be a ‘virtually untapped’ resource to fill the current record high nursing vacancies across Scotland.
To find out how to encourage more men to choose a career in health and social care, it’s important to understand why they are not currently working in the industry. Eccles sites society’s views on nursing as not being a role suitable for a man as a reason: one study of male nursing students revealed that men felt significantly more visible on the wards than their female counterparts - they felt as if they stood out because it was unusual that they were there. Some other reasons for the lack of men in nursing specifically include:
- the perception of a nurse as being a lesser role than a doctor - men may feel that they do not want to train as a nurse as it’s less important in patient care than being a doctor
- stereotypical representations of nurses in popular culture, from television to fancy dress
- the societal attribution of the female gender to nursing
- the questioning of the sexuality of men working in a traditionally female dominated profession
- the salary and opportunities for pay rises.
One male support worker has suggested that society doesn’t set men up well enough to feel engaged in a career in social care - due to gender stereotypes, the industry could feel unfriendly and unwelcome to men, which could not only discourage men from applying for roles in the first place, but also make it hard to retain those who do. He suggests that making men feel more valued and wanted in the industry is key to encouraging more men to join up.
A wealth of opportunities for men in the care sector.
It’s clear that the stereotype of care work roles being roles for women needs to change in order for men to feel engaged in the industry, and in turn to train and apply for roles. One way to kickstart a change in perception of the industry is to have male role models in the sector. For example, in 2017 one care assistant from Surrey led a campaign to address the chronic shortage of male care workers across the sector.
Some universities are also running campaigns to inspire more men to join the sector. Coventry University is using bursary funding of £10,000 for three years to finance 10 male students studying a health-related degree, whilst, Queen’s University Belfast alongside housing and care provider Anchor, has been running campaigns to encourage more men into care work.
It’s also key to highlight the range of opportunities that are available for men in the care industry: along with general nursing and support worker roles, there are new apprenticeships, critical care, military and mental-health nursing and research positions. There really is something for everyone.
Candidates for every role.
At Randstad, we work hard to ensure that we have a database bursting full of high quality care workers, regardless of gender. This means that we have nurses, care assistants, support workers, social workers and administrators ready to develop their careers with you. One of our candidates, Joshua, values his role in contributing to the industry, saying ‘the health and social care sector is a very vital instrument or establishment in promoting ideal well being and support in society.’
If you’d like to discuss your recruitment needs, get in touch with our team of specialists today.
men could be a ‘virtually untapped’ resource to fill the current record high nursing vacancies across Scotland