"How dare they call care workers unskilled?"
This was the headline over an article expressing outrage at the new immigration rules introduced by the Government recently, which close the door to overseas workers by ending visas for ‘low-skilled’ workers earning less than set £25,000 a year.
Lord Leeming wrote a letter to The Times pointing out that care workers have more than practical skills – they also have invaluable personal qualities. Another writer mentioned the extraordinary carers from Ghana, the Philippines and Poland, who achieved what neither medical professionals nor family members could do: ‘they raised my mother’s spirits daily with their joyful and dedicated care. Low-paid? Certainly. Low-skilled? Never.’
Jonathan Dimbleby said, “I loathe the pervasive term 'unskilled'. Are care-workers 'unskilled'? It is a callously bureaucratic way to describe such dedicated men and women. 'Low paid' yes, sometimes scandalously so, but skilled in so many ways that few of us could begin to emulate.”
The National Care Forum (NCF) castigates the Government’s ‘market forces’ strategy that is a body-blow to everything the care sector works for. In its February newsletter NCF writes, ‘The nub of the government’s approach to a new points-based system appears to be the underlying belief that market forces are an effective determinant across all sectors. However, in care, we are not operating in a free market system. The majority of the purchase of care is via a commissioned public sector, which controls the price, thereby determining the available income for the core organisational cost of labour. The same government which is advocating free market conditions righting the labour market, has presided over a systematic squeeze on the very budgets that essentially set the price for the labour market. The very real problems in this sector are caused by a failure to offer competitive terms and conditions, something that is itself caused by a failure to have a sustainable funding model’. NCF will be working with partners to challenge the government’s approach, and to redress the misnomer that low pay equates to low skill.
In the meantime, we let our carers know how much we appreciate them. They receive training not only in what the work requires, but in supporting one another.