On 12 June in Manchester, delegates from 21 local authorities,
staff agencies and voluntary organisations in the North West gather
for the third successive year to provide help and information for
people considering a career in social care.
The North West Social Care Event – Socnow – expects
more than the 300 people who turned up last year. For the first
time pre-registration has indicated a high level of interest. In
addition, a mail shot of about 5,000 DipSw students is expected to
entice some of the next generation of social workers to
The North West faces recruitment problems that are common with
the rest of the country.
At root there is a major issue with the supply of social workers
and other social care staff. Last year Caroline Marsh, deputy
director of social services in Manchester and head of the steering
committee for the event, noted that poaching of employees from
other local authorities was a symptom of the lack of suitably
On the eve of this year’s event Marsh told Recruitment
Talk that “if anything the problem of the supply of
social workers to the area is worse than last year.”
The various initiatives to train more social workers has not yet
brought dividends in terms of enlarging the pool of potential
employees, she feels. And the existing vacant posts in many
councils – especially in children and families work –
means a shortage of staff to supervise students on placements.
“This creates a vicious circle”, Marsh says,
“since employing students who train with you is a good way to
This year Socnow is to concentrate on attracting social workers
to the region; last year’s approach was broader and aimed
equally at trying to address the shortage of other social care
staff. But Marsh feels that social workers are a more mobile labour
force and will be prepared to move to the North West under the
right conditions, whereas other staff are more likely to be
recruited locally, tempted out of other jobs into a social care
The organisations behind Socnow prefer to work as a team
promoting the virtues of the region, trying to import social
workers into the North West rather than competing with each other
for a limited pool of workers.
Of course, the North West is a region with many differences and
even here jobs advertised to fill difficult vacancies have to offer
better starting pay scales. Some prefer to address this –
like Blackpool – with higher than average starting pay.
Others prefer to sell themselves on the basis of less stressful
caseload and better living environment.
Workshops include “Getting Over the Recruitment
Hurdle” which offers advice on getting the job; “Work Life
Balance”, which aims to enable employees to achieve a better
balance between work and their lives outside work; and “A Day
in the Life of a Social Worker”, where social work staff will
present a scenario of typical cases that comes before a
Children’s and Adult team.
More information on Socnow at www.test.rileyextranet.co.uk/SOCNOW2002/event.htm.
It is supported by Community Care.