The General Social Care Council has called for greater monitoring of post-qualifying training after it found only 8% of social workers had enrolled on courses in the past three years.
The GSCC, which regulates social work training in England, said about 6,000 practitioners, or 8% of the nation’s 80,000 social workers, had registered for PQ training since the new framework started in 2006.
This is despite a requirement in the code of practice for social care workers to undertake training to improve their knowledge and skills. Employers are also expected to train and develop their staff, although their code of practice, unlike social workers’, is not mandatory.
The regulator’s annual report on social work education for 2008-9, published this week, said the main barriers to wider take-up included a lack of ring-fenced finances, heavy workloads and changes in structures.
The report said “the availability and take-up of courses across the country needs continued monitoringto ensure supply matches demand”. It raised concerns about the availability of leadership and management programmes, which accounted for 11% of the 286 approved courses.
The creation of a coherent national continuous professional development framework is one of 15 strands of the Social Work Reform Programme for England.
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, blamed the poor take-up on a trend towards centralised training departments in local authorities and the lack of a formal requirement to undertake PQ training.
“In recent years we’ve lost some of the commitment in the partnership between employers at the top of the organisation and PQ course providers,” he said.
The GSCC’s report also found that, although most students found placements, difficulties in sourcing statutory placements had extended beyond children’s services to include adults’ and mental health services.