Q: I am a newly qualified social worker in a new job working with adults with a learning disability and want to ensure that I keep my knowledge and skills up to date in my new job. What support can I get to do this?
A: In a CCETSW (the now abolished Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work) study in 2001, 32% of newly qualified social workers said they received no induction.
I am sure this has improved and that you have been offered a structured induction programme in your new role, which has clarified the expectations of your new employers and helped you to identify any skills gaps your qualifying training has left. If this has not happened it is important that you talk with your line manager to set this up as soon as possible.
You will need support from your line manager and peers and they will be an important source of knowledge, advice and good practice, as you gain experience.
It is important in your first year of practice that you try and negotiate a protected caseload, so that you can reflect on your day to day practice and develop critical thinking about your caseload in regular supervision.
You will have registered with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) and received their Code of Practice and Post-Registration Training and Learning (PRTL) requirements which will guide you in identifying your development needs.
It is important that you feel able to develop both advanced practice skills and/or management skills at this stage in your career and both careers routes are available via the social work post-qualifying framework (PQ). The GSCC has developed this with universities and employers, it offers a structure for advancing your knowledge and skills. Participation in PQ Part 1 will be important for demonstrating you are meeting the PRTL requirement for maintaining your professional status. Funding for PQ and continuing professional development is generally viewed as the responsibility of the social worker themselves or their employer although some bursaries are available.
The Skills for Care website www.skillsforcare.org.uk contains useful links to the new learning disability qualifications framework which offers a vocational route to skills and knowledge to all people working with people with learning disabilities.
A more informal approach to keeping your skills and knowledge up to date is to access evidence of good practice online through the Social Care Institute for Excellence at www.scie.org.uk.
The HEI (Higher Education Institution), where you gained your degree, should have an alumni skills development programme and allow you to retain your library membership. Alternatively, you could access NHS library resources in your area.
Andrea Rowe is chief executive of Skills for Care. She is answering your questions in a personal capacity.
➔ Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions for consideration by our expert panel and your peers to firstname.lastname@example.org
4 September QUESTION
“I am currently in a locum position but my manager keeps cancelling my supervision. Since I started, I still haven’t received any formal supervision, and I am quite concerned. What do you think I should do?”
We will answer this question in the 4 September issue of Community Care. We want to publish readers’ advice too – send it to email@example.com