The General Social Care Council (GSCC) has called for major reforms to social workers’ post-registration training and learning (PRTL) to require them to take more assessed training.
The social care regulator thinks social workers need “more stringent guidelines” about what they need to cover within the 15 days of PRTL they must complete every three years as a condition of registration.
Although the 15 days is compulsory, social workers can choose how much of this comprises formal taught courses or independent learning, which can include reading trade magazines or attending conferences.
Demand for 50% to be assessed
But the GSCC would like at least 50% of PRTL to be formally assessed, meaning it would have to come from an approved course that is quality assured and specific to social work.
It has made the recommendations to the Social Work Task Force, and is seeking government approval to launch a consultation on its plans.
The GSCC also wants the taskforce to urge the government to introduce requirements for people in particular roles, such as in child protection, to undertake specialist training. And it said PRTL could be “more closely linked to career progression”, so a social worker must take particular training to progress.
Councils urged not to cut training
The GSCC’s director of strategy, Lin Hinnigan, has also urged local authorities not to cut training budgets for social workers in response to central government demands to save money.
Only around 20% of local authorities retained their full allocations from the two major social care workforce grants last year, according to a survey by Learn to Care, which represents people working in social care workforce development.
The two funding streams – the national training strategy grant and the human resources development grant – were moved into councils’ area-based grants from 2008-09.
Grants rolled up into big pot
This is a large funding pot made up of grants that were previously separate. For 2010-11, the government has allocated £140m for adult social care workforce development and £18.2m to the children’s social care workforce, but these are subsumed within the area-based grant and are not ring-fenced.
Hinnigan was due to tell a conference tomorrow that strengthening ongoing professional training would “only be possible with the commitment of employers”.
“We understand the financial constraints that public services are under and that difficult choices must be made,” she said, “but we urge employers to protect the funding allocated for social work training.
“We cannot continue to expect social workers to deal with the most intractable and complex problems in society without taking their professional development much more seriously.”
The GSCC will discuss its proposals at its annual conference in London on 14 October.