THOUSANDS of vulnerable older people could be affected by an “absolute crisis” in local government recruitment.

A new report shows that one in three council workers will retire in the next decade.

And Paul Holmes, the secretary of the Unison union’s Kirklees branch, has warned that replacing them would be difficult.

He said: “There’s an absolute crisis. Kirklees Council can’t recruit young people, particularly in care jobs.”

Mr Holmes predicted that Kirklees would have to contract out some care services to cope with the staff shortage.

He said: “The council are increasingly having to look at privatising home care, simply because they don’t have enough staff.

“Older people don’t want to have someone different in their house every week. They want the same person and they want them wearing a council uniform.

“When you’re 76 years old and live alone you don’t want a stranger in your home. Having Kirklees Council on your uniform means something.”

Mr Holmes added that recruiting cooks and cleaners would also be difficult.

He said: “There are 2,000 cleaners and catering assistants employed by Kirklees and their rate of pay is lower than Tesco’s.

“Maternity provision at the big supermarkets has improved massively in recent years and that matters when you consider that 72% of the council workforce is female.”

But Mr Holmes said Kirklees was trying to deal with some of the other shortfalls by training more electricians, plumbers and masons.

He said: “They restarted the craft apprenticeships two years ago so they are ahead of the game in Kirklees.

“But you can still earn twice as much in the private sector. In the council’s building services department 70% of the craft workers are over 45.

“There’s going to be a real skills shortage.”

Mr Holmes was reacting to a report published on Monday by the New Local Government Network.

It found that two-thirds of local government employees are over 40.

The report also said that the vast majority of councils were struggling to recruit at managerial level because graduates had a negative perception of working in local government.

Its author, Nigel Keohane, said: “Our research reveals a depressingly negative impression of working in local government. Its jobs are not marketed to an audience of the most talented.”