David Williamson, from Kirkcaldy, took the brave step to leave the career he had been in for years to retrain for an industry he’d always wanted to work in; social care.

Recent reports from trusted independent charity, Skills for Care, suggest that the best way to counter workforce challenges is to look outside their traditional employee base.

"Social care organisations could face increasing challenges in their recruitment unless they do more to recruit a diverse workforce" one report states, which is backed up by findings that only 18% of the 1.45 million people working in adult social care are male. This is the equivalent to 240,000 jobs.

Bucking the trend

One student who is determined to create a meaningful career for himself in social care and encourages others to folow in his footsteps is David Williamson, from Kirkcaldy.

David took the brave step to leave the career he had been in for years to retrain for social care; an industry he’d always wanted to work in.

“My ambition for a long time was to get into social work and become a social worker,” explained David, “and after I turned 50, I thought it’s now or never so decided to take the plunge and go for it.

“Never having done any social work before, I couldn’t get straight on to a social work degree course, so I had to do something to access that level of study.

“So, after a bit of research, I found out about HNC: Social Services SCQF Level 7 and that, realistically for me, the only way I could do it was full-time over one year. This meant giving up my job, but I was quite prepared to do that, so after being offered a place on the course at my interview, I quit my job and started college.”

More on HNC: Social Services

HNC: Social Services is a one year full-time course that is the same level of learning as the first year of a university degree. As well as preparing you for employment, Fife College has agreed progression routes from HNC: Social Services to degrees at a variety of top universities.

David continued: “A key part of the course is that we’re only really in college two days a week. We have one day that is set aside as a study day, and the final two days of the week are spent at a placement in a work setting, where we act and are treated as a member of staff. This involves sitting in on meetings and being expected to turn up on time every day. I’d say that this practical, hands-on aspect of the course is my favourite part.

“I think coming on the HNC course, although it wasn’t my initial plan, has been beneficial to me as the style of learning and the work experience elements will stand me in good stead for moving to university.

“The HNC course is at the same level as the first year of a degree so you can in some cases go straight to year two of degrees. I have chosen not to take that option and if I do go on to study for a degree, I’ll be starting at year one, but certainly the HNC equips you well for the next step."

See the progression routes available

“The staff at the College all have care backgrounds and come from having worked in care jobs," explained David, "They all have practical experience as well as academic knowledge. The experience gained on placements is invaluable; you couldn’t buy it and couldn’t get it from solely sitting in a classroom or lecture theatre.

“The big positive of the HNC is that you get the theory and have to integrate it into your practical work, applying it to real life settings as you go. It’s really useful and helps to consolidate the learning."

The location of the College was a big plus for David; “Being from Kirkcaldy, it was the obvious choice of college for me. It is a huge benefit to have it so local that I can walk to college. I think that the campus itself is great; it’s very light and modern and I love the atmosphere you get here.”

Why a career in Social Care?

If you are a caring, empathetic person who is also patient and understanding, a career in social work could be the right one for you.

There are many different roles you could perform within the social services industry. You could work with older people, vulnerable adults, children, young people, homeless people, or people with mental health problems.

You’ll provide support and advice to help people to improve their lives. Working in close partnership with a number of agencies and professions, your ability to listen and communicate in a tactful way will allow you to thrive in this rewarding industry.

Explore our Social Care courses