A national recruitment campaign for social workers in adults’ services is needed to combat the shortages of experienced specialists, such as best interest assessors, according to Skills for Care chief executive, Sharon Allen.
Allen told the annual spring seminar for directors of adult social services in Stafford that there was still a pull towards children’s social work and the role of the social worker for adults was not well enough understood.
“What is the story we are telling about adult social work? What are the rewards? What is the fulfilment you get from the job? We are not telling these stories well enough.
Serious recruitment and retention issues
“So I want to ask the question – what else is needed to encourage people to think about a career in adult social work? Is it time for a national recruitment campaign?”
She said serious recruitment and retention issues were emerging among key roles in adult social work such as best interest assessors, the approved mental health professional role and in complex safeguarding.
“We know that we have better retention when the social work role is valued and articulated and when it is better supported in terms of supervision, career pathways, autonomy and offering person-centred care.”
However, she added, these were often the areas sacrificed during budget cuts.
Career progression pathways
“They must not be cut because that is what will bring people into the profession and that is what will keep them in the profession”.
However, one audience member said before a recruitment campaign was considered, more work needed to be done to clarify the career progression pathways within adult social care.
“I think it’s harder now to go from working as a care giver to becoming a social worker than it was 30 years ago. I think we need to go back and make that reconnection between jobs leading to careers.”
Allen agreed and said she felt the opportunities offered by the social work apprenticeship route would be a key boost in this area, as would better recognition of the registered manager role.