More than half of social workers would like the national college to support them in disputes with employers, early findings of a major consultation have shown.
The college of social work, currently being developed as a key plank of the social work reforms in England, is asking practitioners, students and service users for their views on what its roles and functions should be.
Although representation in disputes was not one of the five key functions proposed by the college development group, 54% of 226 respondents to an online questionnaire said they thought some form of trade union representation would be valuable.
Allan Bowman, chair of the college development group, said one model being considered was a joint membership scheme with a trade union, such as the one existing between the College of Occupational Therapists and Unison.
While stressing that the college would not seek to become a separate union or professional body, he said: “I would be surprised if people don’t want some form of union representation.”
The consultation, launched at Community Care LIVE last monthis open to all practitioners, students, academics and service users in the UK.
A consultation paper published in March proposed five key functions, including: providing leadership to the profession; defining the purpose of social work; upholding standards; providing guidance; and shaping training and development.
Early indications are that social workers broadly support the college development group’s vision and priorities for the college.
For example, 86% felt there was a need to improve media and public understanding of social work. This reflects the development group’s proposal that the college should prioritise improving the reputation of social work during its first three years of operation.
The findings also showed 70% thought it valuable or essential that the college helps them to find the right training, while 53% felt the college should play a role in helping them to keep in touch with other social workers.
Bowman said he found it “reassuring” that the college development group seemed to be on the right track.
The college is due to be officially launched in March 2011.
The consultation closes on 10 September.
●Have your say on the priorities for the national college on CareSpace. Comments will be forwarded to the National College Development Group.