Q: I’m employed as a case co-ordinator (basically, an unqualified social worker). I’ve been in the role for over two years and recently successfully completed the first module in the Open University social work degree. I’ve also completed the NVQ level three in health and social care. I want to become a qualified social worker but my council has placed an embargo on taking on any more social work students due to budgetary constraints. I would also have to take a pay cut and have concerns about training costs. Are there any other avenues open to me that would use my skills and qualifications? Or, can I apply for funding support?
A: Remind your employer of their responsibility under the General Social Care Council codes of conduct and practice which are clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to support the professional development of their staff.
Section 3 of the code for employers includes:
Research outlined in Skills for Care’s continuing professional development strategy provides evidence that investment in the workforce and access to professional development supports recruitment and retention of staff in key roles, which in turn supports better outcomes through providing consistency for service users.
All local authorities were recently given a financial settlement which includes the former national training strategy grant and the human resource development grant. This is no longer ringfenced so your managers should be pressing their HR people to ensure that there are adequate budgets in place to develop staff.
If you can move consider working for a different authority which may be recruiting to fill vacancies and offering incentives like professional training alongside the job.
If this fails then you could apply for social work degree programmes and if you are successful you may be eligible for a GSCC bursary. Another route is through management training which is easier to access and more funding streams are attached to it. This might get you into a different level of job where professional training was viewed more positively.
Andrea Rowe is chief executive of Skills for Care. She is answering your questions in a personal capacity
A: I too was not sponsored by my employer for social work training. I wanted to take my career forward and the only way was to get a social work degree. With my age against me (I was 51), I applied as an independent student and took a career break. I re-negotiated my mortgage to reduce outgoings, and have a social work bursary and student grant to live on. With 14 weeks’ holiday in the summer, I have worked to supplement my income.