The single most important asset for social service providers is their staff, who are those who provide the direct care and support for persons with disabilities or other people who may need such services. High quality social services, so important for Europe’s economic and social cohesion, are only possible through sufficient and adequately trained professionals in social services.
Social Services is one of the biggest job creators in Europe today. The sector employs directly over 10 million staff in Europe, with over 1.4 million jobs having been created between 2008 and 2015 making it one of the biggest job creating sectors in Europe. Together with health services, social services represents 7% of the total economic output in the EU-28 (EC, 2016). With changing demographics and family patterns, the social services sector is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades. The same can be said for social service providers for persons with disabilities, in particular in response to the transition to community-based care and support.
However, many issues are currently limiting the sector’s job creation potential with many service providers experiencing staff shortages. This is due to (often significant) cuts to public expenditure in social services despite the increase in demand and the lack of recognition given to the sector. This has led to below average wages, often difficult working conditions, undeclared work, the ageing workforce and stronger gender imbalances in the workforce in most countries in Europe.
The European Union has significant competence when it comes to employment and labour policy, in particular but not only through European Social Dialogue. EASPD is strongly involved in setting up social dialogue structures at European level for the social services sector; in particular through the PESSIS process. Its economic and social policy, in particular the Stability and Growth Pact and the European Semester, also affects the job creation potential of the sector, in particular as it impacts public expenditure towards social services.
The European Commission has yet to act sufficiently to ensure that the Social Services sector’s job creation potential is fully unlocked. It has, however, recognised its potential through the following documents:
- Exploiting the employment potential of the personal and household services (2012)
- An Action Plan for the EU Health Workforce (2012)
- Social Investment Package (2013)
Position or Briefing Papers
- EASPD – Briefing Paper on Job Creation in Social Services – 2015
- EASPD – Response to the Commission’s consultation on the review of the working time directive - 2015
- EASPD – Briefing Paper on the development of Personal and Household Services – 2015
- PESSIS II – European Report on the State of play of Social Dialogue Structures in Social Services in Europe - 2014
- PESSIS II – Briefing Paper on European Social Dialogue and Annex - 2014
- Social Services Europe – Reflection paper on employment in the social and health sector – 2012
- EASPD Study on “Initial research on in-work poverty in the social service provision sector”: Full Report, Summary - 2016
- EASPD Study on “Care in the 21st century – expanding the social care workforce for people with disabilities”: Full Report, Summary - 2016
- Vlerick Business School Report, fact sheet, toolkit, recommendations on Working Conditions and Employment in the Disability sector - 2013