Morale among social workers is at a five year low and the government should appoint a chief social worker, according to more than 200 social work employment agencies.
The Association of Social Work Employment Businesses (Asweb) polled 250 of its members, including Reed Social Care and Capita Social Work and Housing, on issues affecting the profession.
Almost four in five (79%) said morale among social workers is lower or much lower than it was five years ago.
‘Powerful and positive messages’
The poll also showed strong support for a government-appointed chief social worker (81.4%) and the creation of a national college of social work (89.4%) to boost respect for the profession.
Andrew Thorne, chair of Asweb, said both concepts would send out “powerful and positive messages” that society values social work as a profession and demonstrate a “clear government commitment” to driving up standards.
When asked about the reasons for low morale, nearly half (48.4%) of employment agencies said low professional respect represents the biggest challenge to social workers.
However, roughly the same amount again (45.8%) blamed government targets, with 43.7% claiming inappropriate targets pose the biggest obstacle to social work.
Qualifications and training
Asweb questioned its members about qualifications and training, and found almost two-thirds (63.4%) would like to see a licence-to-practice system introduced for newly qualified social workers.
The vast majority (90%) said there should be equal access to on-the-job training for locum and permanent social workers.
Thorne said: “[Social work practitioners] recognise that the way to raise the status and value of social work is to put in place structures and measures which act positively to support and enhance standards and practice.”
Social Work Task Force: MPs propose chief social workers at councils: BASW agrees; ADCS rejects the idea