Social work bursaries, currently available to social work students, would be more effective in the hands of councils, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Cllr David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People board, said the £65m bursary pot available to higher education institutions should be allocated to local authorities instead, to help meet the need for more skilled social workers.
“The purpose of this money was to skill up people for the work force.
“In many areas, career development for existing social workers and recruiting experienced managers are higher priorities than getting more people through social work courses,” Simmonds said.
He pointed out there were no assurances that current trainees would find their way into any of the many vacancies around the country because of a vetting process that means universities don’t always attract the best candidates.
At the National Children’s and Adult’s Services conference last week Simmonds called on the government to be smarter with resources in order to meet the skills crisis head on.
He said if the money was given to councils, they could use it to fund the career development of existing social workers as well as funding placements for students. This would allow councils to fill the particular gaps in their local workforce better.
“Local councils are the ones that employ the social workers- they know what the local needs are,” Simmonds said.
“You could be getting more bang for your buck if the money was used more flexibly.”