Excellence out of adversity

Skills for Care and Development, an alliance of UK sector skills councils (SSCs), organised an international research conference in Glasgow on 1 and 2 February 2011. The conference, entitled ‘Excellence out of adversity’ was the third international conference focusing on the skills of the health and social care workforce. For two days, the conference presented addresses and workshops on the latest research findings and clinical applications on the dissemination of evidence-based practice.

Sector Skills Councils have a remit to analyse labour market intelligence, explore competencies versus qualifications, define formal and informal learning, set occupational standards and prepare the workforce for future need. Catherine Holland from Skills for Care and Development, an ESN Member, says: “We know that it is crucial that our communities receive care from skilled, confident and safe people … often we need to learn from around the world to drive forward our thinking about workforce needs.”

The conference brought together many eminent experts on workforce and skills, including Jill Manthorpe, Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London. She introduced issues emerging from the “Big Society” concept debate and invited the audience to think about how to manage different expectations and assumptions about the care workforce. Dr Rosie Ileet, Deputy Director at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health recognised the need for increased multidisciplinary working and quality leadership. Sandra Torres, Professor of Sociology & Chair in Social Gerontology at Uppsala University, Sweden introduced the societal trend of international migration: at the core of this key note address is the argument that health and social care are is at a crossroad now that ethnic and cultural diversity characterize most European societies at the moment. Dr Shereen Hussein, a Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, stressed the importance of the overall image and status of the sector.

ESN’s John Halloran drove home the real gain to be had from international learning. John informed the audience that across Europe it is clear that crisis is having a severe impact on public finances and on the lives of those who use them and those who work in them. He emphasised the challenge and opportunity of finding ways of strengthening management capacity throughout our services and also to open up a debate about building appropriate leadership for the future.

Conference delegates valued its international dimension and emphasise on research evidence:

  • “I really enjoyed the wider perspective this conference gave me – especially the European and globalisation presentations.”
  • “I found the thread of academic research within keynotes and workshops and their relevance/application across health and social care most beneficial.”