The recruitment crisis in social work has created a “sellers
market” where staff will shop around to find the best employment
opportunities, a senior member of the government’s new
training body has warned, writes Derren
Fiona Waddington, project manager at the Practice Learning
Taskforce, told delegates at Topss England’s annual
conference in Birmingham, that local authorities will have to work
harder at recruiting more, and better quality social workers.
Some councils are already paying qualified social workers up to
‘30’ on the pay scale, with others offering one off
inducements such as welcome handshakes. Students are now
particularly discerning about which employer to join, Waddington
“They will look at a council’s CPA (comprehensive
performance assessment) scores, inspection reports and joint
reviews, as well as what training opportunities there are,” she
“Demand for workers is outstripping supply and students and
existing social workers have very high expectations of employers as
a result,” added Waddington.
She said that improving practice learning opportunities will
make authorities more attractive to potential employees. The
emphasis on practice learning is set to increase with students
being expected to complete 200 hours of practice learning as part
of the degree, and a new performance indicator being introduced
that will see social services departments increase practice
learning ‘opportunities’ by 50 per cent.
Waddington also called on councils to offer work placements to
more social work students.
The taskforce began operating last month with the remit of
improving social workers’ skills and broadening the
profession’s appeal. It is headed up by Mike Leadbetter,
former president of the Association of Directors of Social
Meanwhile, health minister Jacqui Smith announced that the
government is to repeat the £15 million of funding for social
care training for the next three years.
The training strategy implementation fund, which is used to
develop and support NVQ training in the care sector, is to be
distributed through Topss England, as was the case last year when
it was first introduced.
Smith also unveiled further details of how two new social care
training grants, announced at the end of last year, will be
The £20 million national training strategy grant is to be
used to increase vocational qualifications for recently qualified
students to help employers meet the national minimum service
standards. All local authorities will need to have a percentage of
its workforce that has had access to these courses.
The £9 million human resources strategy development grant
is to be divided into two parts: £1 million will be used to
develop five trainee social work pilot schemes, with the remaining
£8 million being used to develop human resources pilot
schemes, linked in with the NHS ‘changing workforce’
programme, which is exploring multi-skilling among health and
social care staff.