Routes to professional staff

In-house training of staff has become increasingly popular among
local authorities and voluntary organisations keen to keep staff or
solve recruitment problems, writes Keith
. The latest social services workforce survey
shows that three-quarters of councils provide in-house training for
So how do voluntary sector organisations compete with the statutory
sector in training staff?    

As provider of residential child care and leaving care services,
Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa started in-house training of its
staff about five years.

“We were satisfied with the staff we were recruiting but
wanted to skill people up”, says Diane Gerrard, human
resources director at Shaftesbury. In the past residential child
care was not treated as a profession so by training staff and
helping them achieve qualifications we are “adding
value” and making it a career, she says.

Awards offered are NVQ 3 and 4 and a manager development

The NVQs are linked to the government’s occupational
standards and were giving an added boost by the development of the
NVQ in child care, says Gerrard. In the past, she says, NVQs were
seen as inferior but the “idea of second class has gone and a
lot more now embrace the qualification.”

It offers a common framework and understanding and allows staff to
develop portable skills and qualifications – ones that can be
taken into other social care fields.

NVQ modules can also contribute to other qualifications and so
offer a map or route for career progression in social care field.

The NVQ programme at Shaftesbury lasts between 9 to 18 months
depending on the individual’s experience and enthusiasm.
There are twice-yearly workshops where staff can share knowledge
and experience and examine their practice and build up their
portfolios. There are also workplace assessments and assignments.

In addition to providing staff added value, Shaftesbury has been
pushing the qualifications as part of the government requirement to
have 80 per cent of its child care workforce qualified at NVQ level
3 or above. This year about 30 staff will study for an NVQ although
Gerrard says this figure will decline as more staff become

Residential care officers and senior residential care officers take
NVQ 3 and 4. Half of staff used to be titled social workers but
with protection of title all staff are residential care

The managerial development course is for managers or those
identified as future managers and also offers team and individual

The beauty of the NVQ framework says Gerrard is that “it fits
all staff”.  

She also believes that the development of the social work degree
means that, hopefully, by 2008 the government should have mapped
out a way to obtain the degree through the NVQ route. Although she
is concerned that staff may find time and money restraints in
taking up the degree, she is hopeful that NVQ modules will be able
to contribute towards the degree.

In the long-term, Gerrard believes that the voluntary sector will
be able to contribute innovative practice towards child care and
provide a range of services for young people and families such as
in extended schools and multi-agency work. And a key part of this
will be developing a flexible workforce with skills and
qualifications that can be used in a wide range of settings.

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