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Healthcare and social services

Industry Sector


People are at the heart of healthcare and social services. If you have a passion for improving lives, a career in this field could be for you. There’s plenty of hard work and long hours, but the rewards are worth it. These jobs bring the unique satisfaction of knowing you're helping people who need it.

In healthcare, you could work with the public or provide behind-the-scenes support. As well as doctors, nurses, and other care-giving roles, there are opportunities for accountants, chefs, software designers and more.

In social services you'll find roles in social work and social care, working with adults or children and young people with a variety of needs and in different settings. You'd support vulnerable people to overcome issues and achieve their aspirations. And, there are great progression routes too.

The industry now

Over 203,000 people work in social services – that’s about 7.8% of Scotland’s total workforce

Over 161,000 people are currently employed by NHS Scotland

Housing support/care at home, care homes for adults and day care of children is the largest sub-sector, making up almost 77% of social services jobs

Over 59,000 healthcare jobs are in nursing or midwifery

There are over 13,000 people employed in support roles (for example porters and electricians) 

Across social services, 42% of jobs are in the private sector, 31% in the public sector and 27% in the voluntary sector

The future

Both sectors are growing – the number of social services jobs increased by 1.8% between 2014 and 2015, while the NHS workforce increased by 7.9% in the last ten years

In healthcare the median age of the workforce is 46, and in social services, the median age of the workforce in the public sector is 48 and in the private sector 40 – so both areas will need new recruits to fill the gaps

Staff in healthcare and social services roles are working closer together and more development opportunities are becoming available for careers in support roles

*Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2015 Workforce Data

*NHS Scotland Workforce Information