Awareness drive takes off as survey reveals attitudes

The vast majority of those taking part in a national survey
would not even consider a career in social work, research for
Community Care has revealed.

An NOP poll of more than 1,000 people found that 72 per cent
rejected social work as a career, compared with just 24 per cent
who would consider it.

The research results come as Community Care and the
Local Government Association start a national awareness campaign to
boost the image of the profession to attract more recruits.

Health minister John Hutton was due to launch the strategy today
(Thursday). The initiative includes a series of posters, leaflets
and a website.

The survey found that 66 per cent of 15-24 year olds would not
consider becoming social worker, followed by 69 per cent of 25-34
year olds, and 76 per cent of 35-44 year olds. The high percentage
of young people who rule out a career in social work is reflected
by the fact that less than 5 per cent of social workers are under
25 years old.

However, the profession was described in positive terms by those
people interviewed. Workers were thought of as caring by 76 per
cent, enthusiastic by 59 per cent, and as having a satisfying job
by 56 per cent. And 79 per cent of respondents said they valued the
contribution workers made to society, with the majority (85 per
cent) coming from the 15-24 year old age group.

Don Brand, National Institute for Social Workers director of
policy and workforce development, said: “The fact that 72 per cent
would not consider the job indicates both the difficulties and the
stresses of the work.”

Brand said that although those questioned attributed positive
attributes to social workers, there was a feeling among the public
and the staff themselves that “they can never get it right”.

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston
said: “This notion that you need life experience before you go into
social work is a misnomer. We should be trying to attract young
people into it before losing them to other careers. We have a
serious problem if they don’t want to go into the sector.”

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