Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2021 Workforce Data

24 Aug 2022

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) today published Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2021 Workforce Data.

This is the 14th workforce data report published by the SSSC and the 11th set of Official Statistics. The report combines administrative data from the Care Inspectorate with data collected by the SSSC directly from local authorities to form a comprehensive picture of the paid workforce employed in the social service sector in Scotland at the end of 2021.

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This report provides an overview of the data at a national level and, where possible, also provides data sub-divided by sub-sector or local authority area. The format of the report mainly follows the SSSC’s previous workforce data reports for 2008-2021.

Key points

  • The size of the workforce has dropped slightly to 208,360, a fall of 0.6% since 2020. The social service workforce makes up approximately 7.9% of all Scottish employment.
  • This decrease has been driven mainly by decreases to the care homes for adults and housing support/care at home sub-sectors, while the day care of children sub-sector grew greatly in contrast.
  • The whole time equivalent (WTE) measure of the workforce is 159,150, a decrease of 0.1% since 2020.
  • The stability index of the workforce is 75.5%. This means just over three-quarters of the workforce remained in the same post since last year.
  • The largest employer type differs between local authority areas, with services in Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar (the three island authorities) provided mainly by the public sector. However, in most areas the private sector is the largest employer.
  • The three largest sub-sectors are housing support/care at home, care homes for adults and day care of children; together these account for almost 79% of the workforce.
  • The median age of the workforce is highest in the public sector (47) and lowest in the private sector (40). Staff working in early years services in the private sector have the lowest median age (28).
  • The percentage of men working in the sector is 15%, although it is around double or greater that proportion in criminal justice social work and residential children’s services.
  • The workforce is mainly employed on permanent contracts (83%).
  • The median figure for the typical weekly hours worked by staff is 33 and 53% of the workforce work full time (more than 30 hours per week)

As an Official Statistics product, this publication complies with the Pre-Release Access to Official Statistics (Scotland) Order 2008. The list of people who have pre-release access can be found here.


The tables and charts in this report are available in Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods) format, plus all the report's data tables in non-proprietary Comma Separated Values (CSV) format. The CSV files are provided together in a compressed ZIP file. The provision of the data in these formats is intended to facilitate its analysis and re-use.

Description File type File size (KB)  
All tables .xlsx 74.0 Download
All tables .ods 36.0 Download
All tables (compressed CSV files) .zip 20.0 Download
All charts (compressed)  .zip 891.7 Download

Also available for download is the blank survey template used by local authority social work survey respondents to submit their data for December 2021. 

The Explore that data section of the website had been updated.

More detailed tables giving a breakdown of the number of people working in all sub-sectors and employer types within individual local authority areas will be published in our detailed data section in the coming months.