High levels of job satisfaction and concerns about pay have been reported by newly qualified social workers enrolled in the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s support programme.
Early findings from a study that followed the social workers after their first year of employment showed 80% of NQSWs were satisfied or very satisfied with their allocated tasks, relationships with colleagues, skills development and personal accomplishment.
A similar proportion said they were satisfied with employment conditions, such as the number of hours worked and the quality of supervision, but 40% of NQSWs were unhappy about their salary.
The average salary for a newly qualified social worker in 2009 was £26,654, according to an Incomes Data Services report.
One-third of the 1,100 children’s social workers participating in the pilot also said they were likely to look for another job the following year. Of those, a quarter – or 7.5% of the participants overall – said they intended to leave social work altogether.
This drop-out rate is higher than that reported by newly qualified teachers (5%) but lower than nurses (14%).
Stress is one of the reasons for NQSWs wanting to leave the profession. “If you are stressed you are more than twice as likely to leave as someone who is not stressed,” said John Carpenter, professor of social work at Bristol University, who was involved in the research.
“But that’s not surprising, and not all stress is work related. Some people will leave their jobs because of stress in their relationships, for example.”
The CWDC launched the programme in 2008 to help employers to provide NQSWs with extra supervision and reduced caseloads. During year one, the programme supported 1,000 NQSWs working for 89 employers. The programme was launched in England in September 2009 when an additional 2,000 NQSWs joined, along with 140 councils and third sector organisations.
“We have designed the NQSW programme to support candidates and employers, and this helps to ensure high-quality people stay in the profession,” said a spokesperson for the CWDC.