Plans to bring forward the assessed first year of practice for social work graduates in England could be stalled by cuts to workforce development teams, an expert has warned.
Jane McLenachan, head of social work and health studies at De Montfort University, said councils were already cutting the number of staff responsible for overseeing social workers’ learning and professional development.
Yet these teams will be crucial in developing and implementing the assessed and supported year in employment, which forms part of the Social Work Reform Board’s overhaul of social work training in England.
“How can councils drive forward the social work reform board’s agenda without these teams?” said McLenachan.
“Workforce development staff foster the development of a learning culture in the organisation, including post-qualifying training, practice learning and continuing professional development.”
At Skills for Care’s social work conference last week, care services minister Paul Burstow said cutting training and professional development would be a “false economy”.
“But they’re already doing it,” countered McLenachan, who represents the Joint University Council’s social work education committee on the reform board’s career working group.
“Without that infrastructure, I worry that the emphasis on training will be diluted,” said McLenachan.
“Senior operational managers focus on service delivery. To what extent are they going to prioritise developing CPD and engagement with the assessed year?”
The reform board had planned to implement the assessed year in 2016 after running pilots for four years.
Burstow has promised to say more about workforce development next week when he unveils his vision for social care at the National Children and Adult Services conference.
Community Care will be bringing live coverage from the conference.
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