Research on evolving jobs, skills, and training needs in the social services sector and the role of social partners in managing changes



Magdi Birtha


Sabina Gjylsheni, Selma Kadi


In the FORTE project, the Social Employers and the European Public Service Union (EPSU) aimed to gather evidence and highlight the needs of the social services sector in terms of skills and training, linked to evolving needs of service users and new models of care. In recent years, there has been a shift towards more person-centred social services, in the community and at home. Homecare is care and support provided by a care worker for the overall well-being (hygiene, safety, social) of a person in need, in their own home. Community-based care can be residential care, day care or care services provided at the home of the person in need of care (home care). The distinguishing element of community-based care is that it stresses the inclusion element as opposed to the segregating approach of institutional care.

Delivering these alternative care models often requires new skills and training needs to those in residential care, and also poses different risks. One big factor is how technology and digital solutions can impact the work and workload in these new models of care and the skills needed to manage these digital solutions.


With this project, the Social Employers and EPSU aimed to gather evidence and highlight the needs of the social services sector in the field of skills and training, linked to evolving needs of service users and new models of care. The project also addressed the need to ensure decent, safe, and healthy working conditions in the sector, to be able to attract and retain the workforce needed to respond to the growing care and support needs of changing societies.

The project paid special attention to the role of social partners and collective bargaining in managing changing job profiles, skills, and training needs, and ensuring good working conditions. Project findings help the social services sector to further build its capacity to take part in effective and recognised social dialogue, by feeding into the Social Employers and EPSU’s planned joint work in the framework of sectoral social dialogue.


- Desk research/Literature review
- Interviews with national and European stakeholders (16 interviews with social partners from at least 8 EU countries and 4 EU-level interviews, with organisations representing services users)
- Analysis of data
- Write-up of report


The research focused on the following main topics:

  1. Evolution of social services jobs in EU countries (evolving needs of service users, new UN CRPD compliant models of care, changes linked to the uptake of digital tools and technologies etc.)
  2. Impact of the evolution of jobs on skills needs (which ones) and ways to acquire new skills (training, new form of management, and other ways)
  3. Role of social dialogue in handling changing jobs, skills and training needs.

The report highlights key learning & proposes recommendations.


The new models of care require a range of (new) skills such as:

- project management

- intercultural communication

- interprofessional collaboration

- group-specific

- digital literacy and communication

The new models of care require training and collaboration:

- training in human rights-based approaches, users’ wellbeing, mental health support

- recognition of qualifications gained in foreign countries

- familiarity with digital technologies and tools

- collaboration between social partners to create more equitable and sustainable working conditions in the care sector

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research supports the Sustainable Development Goals

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UN SDG Decent Work and Economic Growth
UN SDG Reduced Inequalities
UN SDG Partnerships for the Goals