Skills for Care appoints new chief executive


Oonagh Smyth has been appointed chief executive of adult social care workforce development body, Skills for Care.

Oonagh, who is currently executive director of strategy and influence at Mencap, where she has led a significant strategic change programme across the organisation, will take up her post in early 2020.

“I am delighted to be appointed as the new CEO of Skills for Care,” Oonagh said. “Social care is vital. I have seen social care at its best and it is powerful when delivered by people that care, and it transforms lives.

“There are 1.49 million people working in adult social care now, and this is predicted to increase by 36% by 2035. Skills for Care has a crucial role in developing the skills and knowledge of this growing group of people working in social care and helping employers recruit and retain people.

“Skills for Care is an excellent organisation, with a skilled and motivated team, highly engaged with employers across the sector. I know from my own experiences, the significant impact Skills for Care has on workforce development. So while I am sad to leave my amazing colleagues at Mencap, I’m really looking forward to meeting all the team and getting to work.”

Oonagh is also a Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, a cross-sector alliance of 80 social care organisations influencing at the highest government levels. She has a law degree, a Masters in Human Rights Law from Queens University Belfast and an Executive Coaching Masters from Ashridge Business School. Oonagh coaches executives in the charity sector pro bono.

Skills for Chair Dame Moira Gibb, who led the selection process, said: “We had a very strong set of candidates for this demanding role, but Oonagh’s experience and commitment shone through, impressing all of us involved.

“We have appointed a dynamic, experienced CEO who will add real value and fresh thinking to the highly effective work our team is already doing, That intensive work with employers and workers that Oonagh will lead means people who need care and support in our communities can live the lives they want to.”

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