Dozens of people have applied for jobs in the adult social care sector following a recruitment drive prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

County Durham Care Academy launched the fast-track recruitment and training programme at the beginning of last month in response to pressures being placed on the sector by the crisis.

More than 60 applicants responded to the appeal, many of whom have now completed their training and undergone pre-employment checks.

Their details have been sent on to potential employers, with many now undergoing interviews for roles as care workers, domestic assistants and kitchen assistants.

The Care Academy was launched last year by Durham County Council to support the development of a skilled and valued adult social care workforce in the county.

Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “We all know that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the social care sector, with staff working incredibly hard to help some of our most vulnerable residents.

“It has inevitably created a need for additional staff to support this important work and by introducing this fast-track recruitment and training programme we are able to meet this need quickly and efficiently.

“Not only does this mean we are able assist providers in filling vacancies and improving their resilience, but we are also helping individuals find employment at a time when some may have lost their jobs or are struggling to earn a wage.”

There are more than 100 independent sector care providers in County Durham, supporting adults with social and physical activities including household tasks, personal care and attending appointments.

The academy is in regular contact with many of these employers in order to match applicants to opportunities in their local area. This makes the recruitment process easier for the county’s care providers, while supporting people to access local job opportunities.

The Care Academy is also working with day care providers who are no longer operating during the coronavirus pandemic to provide appropriate training for staff so that they can be redeployed into other care positions when needed.

Kathryn Cooper, manager of Devonshire House, West Auckland, and Chair of the County Durham Residential Registered Managers Network, said: “This is a very busy time for the care sector and this recruitment initiative by the Care Academy has certainly helped me, I don’t have much time for recruitment at the moment and to know that these candidates have already been vetted by the local authority and received some training is reassuring. The process was simple and I look forward to welcoming our new recruit this week.”

The Care Academy is now launching a second round of recruitment, with applicants invited to fill in an online application form before completing online training.