The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate

Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate is a newly introduced qualification aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of individuals working in adult social care settings. Employers in both CQC regulated and non-regulated care settings can apply for funding for their workforce members in direct adult social care roles. Individuals must be aged 19 or above to enroll and receive funding for the qualification, which is applicable to England only and covers both new and existing staff.

The qualification comprises 15 units based on the existing Care Certificate standards, with some adjustments to meet the standards of a Level 2 qualification and updates to reflect current developments and needs in the sector. Learners will undergo regular formal assessments to demonstrate competence in defined knowledge and skills areas. Prior learning and assessment undertaken during induction or in the workplace may be recognised towards completing the qualification, which is expected to take an average of 6-8 months to complete.

The government has allocated £53.91 million to support up to 37,000 individuals in direct adult social care roles to enroll in the qualification between June 2024 and March 2025. Eligible employers can apply for reimbursements towards the cost of the qualification on behalf of their employees through a new digital service. Training providers delivering the qualification must be approved by an Awarding Organisation and adhere to quality assurance measures.

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate builds upon the existing Care Certificate standards but requires formal assessment as it is an accredited qualification. While the qualification is not mandatory, it will be recognised alongside other Level 2 qualifications and will be up to employers’ discretion to enroll staff onto the qualification.

Funding for the qualification is available for enrollments up to March 2025, with intentions to seek further funding beyond that period. Discussions are ongoing with regulatory bodies such as CQC on how the qualification will be recognised and reported on in the sector.

The new learning standard aims to provide a standardised qualification that enhances the skills and professionalism of the adult social care workforce in England.

The Care Certificate & The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate

The current Care Certificate is a recognised and prescribed set of learning outcomes required for induction into health and social care. It is delivered slightly differently with each training provider since it is not a regulated qualification, so there is duplication of learning, training, and assessment processes across different organisations. Currently, there is no standardised approach to delivering the Care Certificate standards, leading to inconsistencies in how the content is taught and assessed. This results in new staff often having to repeat the same learning and assessment, even if they have already completed the Care Certificate in a previous organisation. Many providers deliver the Care Certificate in-house, further exacerbating the variability in delivery and assessment methods.

To address these issues, the Department has developed the new Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate qualification based on the existing Care Certificate standards. The introduction of this new qualification aims to enhance portability and standardisation across the sector. By establishing a baseline standard, the new qualification seeks to recognise the professionalism of the care workforce and provide a consistent framework for learning and development.

Investing in learning opportunities and supporting staff to gain skills and qualifications is crucial for reducing turnover rates. Research shows that turnover of staff is 9% lower in organisations where there is access to learning opportunities. Therefore, incentivising staff to develop their careers through training and qualifications can help attract and retain talent in the workforce.

While the new qualification will not be mandatory initially, funding will be available from June 2024 to support its implementation. Staff who already hold a relevant qualification will have the option to undertake the new qualification if they choose to do so. However, care providers are encouraged to prioritise staff without relevant qualifications to enable them to benefit from gaining one, thus promoting continuous professional development and improving standards across the sector.

Will the Care Certificate be Mapped to The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate?

It is not yet clear whether learners with existing care certificate learning will be able to have their learning counted towards the Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate. Skills for Care have indicated that there will be scope for recognition of prior learning to be counted towards the qualification, however. This should be clarified by awarding organisations as the formal qualification specification develops. It seems likely that training providers will also have the scope to decide for themselves what constitutes relevant learning on a case by case basis.

What is Going to Happen to the Existing Care Certificate Standards?

It is unlikely that the existing Care Certificate will be replaced by the Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate, but official guidance from Skills for Care is yet to be released. The Care Certificate standards are induction training standards at present, and the new qualification is a long form course typically spanning 6-8 months. It is therefore not feasible to use the upcoming courses to replace the Care Certificate for inducting new staff at present. Care providers will also need to maintain existing induction training standards where they opt out of putting staff forward for this qualification. It is conceivable that the current Care Certificate standards could be mapped to the new qualification in the same way as Level 2 & Level 3 Diplomas.

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate and the Level 2 Diploma in Care

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate, Level 2 Diploma in Care, and Adult Care Worker Apprenticeship are likely to continue in tandem with one another in the immediate future.

The Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate requires learners to be 19 or older to enroll and receive funding, following Department for Education policy. As mentioned, it typically takes around 6-8 months to complete and focuses on providing a baseline standard of knowledge and skills for adult social care roles.

In contrast, the Level 2 Diploma in Care is a longer qualification lasting approximately 12 months and is well-recognised within the sector. It offers a comprehensive understanding of care principles and practices, covering a broader range of topics than the Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate.

The Adult Care Worker Apprenticeship is available to individuals aged 16 and above and includes Functional Skills and the Level 2 Diploma in Care as part of its standards. It provides a structured learning program suitable for individuals under 19 in the workforce, as well as those aged 19 and above.

The Department for Health and Social Care, Department for Education, and Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education are collaborating on discussions regarding the existing Level 2 landscape and apprenticeship standards, considering aspects of national qualification reform.

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