Went to East Malling today to a celebration event for the "Kent and Medway Care Ambassadors" - twenty five professional care workers who give of their time in addition to the 'day job' to travel around Kent and Medway, speaking to students and mature job seekers, evangelising Social Care as a profession of choice. Interesting that in a recent talk to 150 female students, only three raised their hands when asked if they were considering care as a career. Of the reasons why the other 147 were disinterested, their top three reasons against working in social care were 'rates of pay', the 'negative image of care as a profession', and 'perceived levels of stress'.
The Government, who voice concern at the lack of young people joining the care profession, seem hell-bent on making it as hard as possible for those young people even to gain experience. Whilst in any other profession, a young person can start an apprenticeship at sixteen years of age, the Government won't let them start an apprenticeship in care until they are two years older - 18.
There lies the problem. Whilst at sixteen, many young people are interested in the vocational opportunities that care work provides, by eighteen many have lost that interest, preferring money in their pockets and the lifestyle that many other jobs can buy.
And yet when a fifteen year old girl on a short term work placement in a care home, experienced an elderly man collapsing in his room, she did precisely the right thing - kneeling on the floor beside him, comforting him while she called for help. And the result? The authorities offered to 'make an exception' - she could begin her apprenticeship at sixteen...
Oh for a Government that applies common sense and - god forbid - consistency to its ever-growing book of rules.