There were 42,953 staff (WTE) in social work departments in Scotland at October 2005. This was 4 per cent up on the previous year and a rise of a quarter since 1999.

Women accounted for 84 per cent of staff while only 1 per cent were from ethnic minorities.

The workforce is also ageing with 38 per cent of staff now older than 50 compared with 35 per cent in 2000.

Social workers account for 11 per cent of all staff and there have been large increases in their numbers over few years. In 2003, there was 4,102 social work posts while last year there was 4,760 (actual number of social workers was 5,191). Social work assistants have also seen their numbers rise from 1,540 in 2003 to 2,290 last year – a 50 per cent increase.

Much of this increase can be put down to extra investment in recruitment, training and degree courses north of the border. This is also reflected in the numbers with qualification, only 6 out of 4,800 social workers who replied did not have a qualification, and a third had more than one. Among social work assistants, only 112 did not have a qualification out of the 1,000 that replied.

Vacancy rates stand at 11 per cent for children’s, 12 per cent for adults, 13 per cent for generic and 9 per cent for offenders services.

The largest sector employing social workers is adult services (61 per cent of social workers), children’s (17 per cent) and generic and offending services.

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