Employing school leavers in the care industry

Young care worker

As a result of the recruitment crisis in social care, care providers are always keen to find new ways to attract great employees for the best possible cost to their business.

Since there’s no minimum age or formal qualifications needed to work in social care, it’s a great career for young people to get into.

In recent months, we’ve taken a few enquiries from clients within the care sector for advice on employing under 18  year olds. So, we thought we’d share a brief overview of our advice with you.

Can under 18’s carry out all aspects of a carer role?

In theory, yes. Historic rules that restricted under 18s from undertaking some tasks – like intimate care, have now been relaxed to help the recruitment crisis. However, it’s worth checking your liability insurance policy before recruiting under 18s – most will only cover  18s and over as standard, but this can usually be easily amended.


Training of under 18s should be undertaken to the same competency as adults. The Care Certificate should be achieved (usually within the first 12 weeks of their induction), and a buddy system put in place for support and monitoring.

Once completed and competent, the employee can undertake the same duties as an adult, including intimate care, subject to the service user’s consent.

Qualifications and progression

Once you’ve recruited a young carer who shows potential, you’ll want to do everything you can to encourage them to stay in the sector. You could do this by showing them how they can build a career and putting them through their NVQ qualifications.

Stage 1 – NVQ level two in care: with this qualification, an employee can become a senior care assistant. It takes up to two years to complete, which means they are likely to be 18 years old by the time they’ve achieved their qualification.

Stage 2 – NVQ level three in care: this one’s equal to an A level and is commonly completed within a year.

Stage 3 – NVQ level four in care: this is the final qualification in care and is needed for a career as a care manager.

If you’re considering putting employees through qualifications, if you’re a Citation client, make sure you speak to us about including the right clauses in their contracts of employment.

For example, you might want to make it a condition of their employment that they complete such qualifications within a certain time period. Or, you might want to recoup some of the training costs if they leave within a certain timeframe following qualification, if you’ve paid to get them there.


It’s usual to pay around the national minimum wage for a care assistant (£4.05 an hour for employees aged 16 or 17, or £3.50 if they are an apprentice).

Got a question?

If you’d like more information on this or any other aspect of recruitment or HR management, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk.

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