Authorities look to students

Two local authorities have offered cash bursaries to social work
students in an effort to ease recruitment problems in children and
families teams, despite low take-up of the incentive last year.

Cumbria Council has offered £2,000 to final year students
if they agree to work with their children and families team for two
years after qualification. Durham Council have offered £1,800
and asked for a 12-month commitment.

Both departments were disappointed with take-up last year when
bursaries were offered for the first time. Durham social services
only managed to award seven of its 10 bursaries.

“Public services just aren’t attracting young graduates,” said
Barbara Brelsford, Durham’s children and families human resources
strategy implementation manager. “The issue of salary is uppermost,
and with that goes the poor media coverage and that people are not
prepared to put themselves in the firing line.”

A spokesperson for Cumbria said the response to last year’s
scheme had been limited, but they had managed to award all 12
bursaries. “The response this year has already been much better,”
she said.

Chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social Services
human resources and training committee Bill McKitterick said there
was no short-term fix to the recruitment crisis in children and
families work.

“It is an area that is very challenging, and students know they
can choose where they want to work,” he said. “Money may not be the
answer to everything.”

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