Employment agencies are calling on the government and councils
to give them greater support when recruiting social workers from
developing countries, writes Derren
Some agencies believe the government should provide councils
with central funding to help pay for the initial costs of
settling-in social workers from poorer countries, similar to the
way the NHS provides accommodation for nurses from the Philippines
and parts of Africa.
With social worker vacancy rates still running at 20 per cent in
some areas, local authorities are increasingly looking to bring in
For some time, staff have been brought in from Australia, New
Zealand and Canada, and more recently from South Africa and India.
But some argue there is an untapped resource in other parts of the
Lawrence Perry, who runs Dolma International Placement
Corporation, said there is a surplus of thousands of trained social
workers in the Philippines who could be recruited. However, Perry
said there had been little interest from councils or agencies
because of the difficulty in finding them affordable
An employment expert at the Philippines embassy in London said
it had verified only one contract to recruit social workers,
whereas 25,000 Filipino nurses work in the NHS.
But Philip Poole, a director of international agency Synergy
Recruitment, said the red tape involved in recruiting from the
Philippines is a hindrance – workers need a job offer before
they can get a visa, whereas those from Commonwealth countries can
enter on two-year working visas.
“There’s easier places to recruit from,” he
Richard Bloom, who runs socialworkrecruitment.com, recruited
around 70 social workers from Zimbabwe two years ago. He loaned
them between £1,000-3,500 each to get settled, but some are
still paying the money back.
“The complexities of bringing them over and making sure
they can cope meant we had to charge councils 25 per cent of their
salaries. Most aren’t prepared to do that, but the long term
benefits are great because they are hard working and
• The General Social Care Council is to phase out its
letter of verification to accredit overseas social workers formal
qualifications from 30 April, after which they will be required to
apply to the social work register.