A PROGRAMME aimed at improving carers' skills is being launched amid increasing pressure to recruit people to the role.

There are about 1,400 vacancies for carers in County Durham at any one time, according to the charity Skills for Care, while 25 per cent of those in the role currently are set to retire in the next ten years.

Durham County Council is setting up a "care academy" to try and improve skills within the care sector and help with recruitment and retention.

The County Durham Care Academy is being launched on Tuesday.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “Adult social care providers are under increasing pressure to recruit and retain staff to meet demand for services.

"As a council we are committed to ensuring that our providers are supported effectively so that we can continue to improve care in County Durham.

“The Academy is a small but vital part of a much larger programme of work that aims to transform how we deliver services to our residents.”

The academy will offer free training to care providers and those wishing to pursue a career in the sector.

It will offer training in a range of areas including recruitment and retention of staff, training, technology and service delivery.

The academy has also developed a free six-week course to give people a route into care, aimed at helping providers meet the growing need for carers because of the ageing population.

There is also a programme for people who are specifically interested in working as personal assistants, supporting people with day to day tasks at home and within the community.

In County Durham, there are more than 100 independent care providers whose teams of care workers support adults with social and physical activities including household tasks, personal care and attending appointments.

According to the charity Skills for Care, 10.3 per cent of adult social care roles are vacant in County Durham, equating to about 1,400 at any one time.

The average age of a care worker, meanwhile, is 44, with 25 per cent of the workforce aged over 55 and due to reach retirement age in the next ten years.