The recruitment crisis in social work has created a
“seller’s” market where staff will shop around to find the
best employment opportunities, a senior member of the
government’s new training body said last week.
Fiona Waddington, project manager at the Practice Learning
Taskforce, told delegates at the annual conference of training body
Topss England, that councils would have to work harder at
recruiting more, and better quality, social workers.
Some councils were already paying qualified social workers above
the average, while others were offering one-off inducements such as
“golden hellos”, Waddington said.
Students had become particularly discerning about which employer
to join, she told delegates in Birmingham. “They will look at a
council’s inspection reports and joint reviews, as well as
what training opportunities there are,” she said.
“Demand for workers is outstripping supply and students and
existing social workers have very high expectations of employers as
She said increasing practice learning opportunities would make
councils more attractive to potential employees.
Students will be expected to complete 200 hours of practice
learning as part of the new social work degree. The introduction of
a performance indicator will help to achieve a 50 per cent increase
in practice learning opportunities in social services
Waddington also called on councils to offer work placements to
more social work students.
“I know it can create extra work and difficulties but
we’ve got to overcome these barriers because students can
bring in new ideas as well as an extra pair of hands. And if they
enjoy it they are more likely to come back once they graduate,” she
Waddington, former head of the long-term care team for
children’s services at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said
councils should try to attract non-social work employees who had
good social work attributes.
The task force began operating last month with the remit of
improving social workers’ skills and broadening the
profession’s appeal. It is headed by Mike Leadbetter, former
president of the Association of Directors of Social Services.