A council is on a drive to encourage more people to consider care work as a rewarding career – and one with prospects.
Gwynedd Council has been targeting areas such as Pwllheli, Bangor, Porthmadog and Pwllheli, many in rural areas, where it says it has been difficult to fill job vacancies since the pandemic.
In line with what is happening in the private sector, filling many of its job vacancies has “proved a challenge” with around 200 jobs remaining unfilled.
But care work has been a particularly difficult area to recruit, according to Cabinet Member for Corporate Support Councillor Menna Jones.
In a bid to highlight the positives of working in the field, and other related roles, Menna says the council has been “working hard” to develop more career paths, training and opportunities.
It is also trying to overcome some of the barriers to working within the field by devising more flexible hours and offering more support.
“Care work can be very rewarding, but people don’t always realise it can also lead on to all sorts of jobs and opportunities within the council itself,” she said.
“Currently a council carer earns around £19,000 per annum, but with help to develop skills there is the chance to progress into other areas such as in social work – a social worker’s salary averages at around £35k.”
The council also offers opportunities to develop through training and education.
She said: “There is an opportunity to improve your qualifications and future prospects, we offer the chance to study through the Open University whilst working.
“We also have a number of apprentice, trainee and graduate schemes, offering other pathways.
“It’s been hard to fill council jobs right across the board, but we really want local people to stay in the area.
“It is important for us to grow our own talent, if people feel safe and secure, and are in jobs they enjoy, they will stay locally.”
Menna, who is a busy mum of two herself, went from being a front-line council worker, to becoming an important part of the council’s top decision-making process.
Her former job saw her tailoring support for people who were out of work or at risk of poverty.
She specifically helped people overcome barriers to employment and training, to help them find work and futures.
“There are lots of people who would take up care roles, and would be great at them, but feel they can’t because of having a family or feel they have other barriers,” she said.
“But we have worked really to develop jobs and schemes that are flexible to people’s circumstances, we offer lots of support to families, and there are full-time and part-time opportunities, and different types of contracts.
“A council is a safe employer, and as council employees you also get to take advantage of all sorts of schemes and benefits.
“We have things like ‘shopping local discounts’, where you might get a voucher or a discount from a local business, and those helps the local business too by bringing local custom.
“Council wages are also above the national minimum wages, and close to the real living wage for Wales,” she added.
Menna urged anyone interested in thinking about care work, or wishing to find out more about council jobs and other schemes, to visit the council’s website and social media channels.