Government recruitment campaign helps improve social work’s image

The first part of the government’s recruitment
campaign to attract people into the social work profession has been
declared a success by health minister Jacqui Smith.

The £1.5m national newspaper and radio
advertising campaign encouraged nearly 14,000 calls to the
information line and more than 11,000 people to the website.

“The response that we have had in the first
six weeks of the campaign has exceeded our expectations and I am
confident that we can build on this success over the three years of
the recruitment drive,” said Smith.

She added: “Many people had a very negative
view of social workers, which was heavily influenced by the media,
and did not understand what social work entailed.”

The campaign was aimed at promoting the
positive work social workers do and highlighting the variety of the

Smith said that she hoped the people who
requested further information would join the profession and help to
increase the number of social work applicants for social work
training by 5,000.

Vice-chairperson of the Association of
Directors of Social Services human resources and training committee
Hilary Simon welcomed the fact that new people who had never
thought about social work as a profession were stepping forward:
“What it means is positive information about social services is
hitting the streets.”

But she warned that it was a very long journey
between sending out an information pack and getting a practitioner
working in the field. Key persuaders included issues such as pay,
housing, post-qualifying opportunities and working conditions.

“As employers, we must not be complacent. It
is a big mountain we need to climb and we need lots of
encouragement from ministers and central government,” she said.

Director of the British Association of Social
Workers Ian Johnston said his main concerns were that some people
couldn’t always access information, such as those who had dropped
out of the profession and wanted to return. Johnston felt the
system should be simpler.

He added:” We need to see the same level of
investment as the campaigns for teaching and police.”

– The recruitment site is found at:

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