Social work employers should make greater use of “grow your own” schemes to train practitioners to tackle shortages and improve the diversity of the workforce, research has found.
The study, published by the General Social Care Council, found that employer-sponsored training was under-used as a way of filling vacancies and shaping the make-up of the workforce.
GSCC chief executive Mike Wardle said: “Innovative approaches are essential if we are to recruit more social workers. We urge employers to take positive action to tackle shortages.”
Grow your own
Grow your own (GYO) schemes fund employees through their social work qualification, employing them part-time as they train, and full-time in their vacations and when qualified.
The report found that GYO students were more likely to be male and white than those not on the scheme. However, such schemes did not improve the low levels of disabled social workers, as GYO students were less likely to be disabled than others.
Anecdotal evidence in the report found that GYO students were more likely to pass their course on time and stay with their employers, and less likely to withdraw from their courses.
The report warned against some pitfalls in GYO schemes, including over-loading students with case work while they study and tailoring the training to only one job or local area, leaving a new graduate stifled by their employer.
In order for the schemes to be effective, the report encouraged employers to collaborate with higher education institutions, negotiate a workable arrangement with students and give strong high-level endorsement.
The research will form the basis of a toolkit for best practice in training, to be released early next year.