Scottish parliament backs fresh move to tackle recruitment crisis

Scottish executive last week announced a recruitment drive for social work,
accepting that vacancies in the profession had reached crisis level.

Minister for education and social work Cathy
Jamieson told the Scottish parliament that problems of staff recruitment and
morale in social services "must be addressed".

Launching the executive’s action plan for
social workers, Jamieson said that executive funding to local authorities had
already led to the recruitment of an extra 100 social workers in the year
2001-2. But she added that there were still some 350 vacancies in the social
work sector and 5 per cent of home care posts were still unfilled.

"To [fill vacancies] we must make sure
that people in the workforce are well equipped for the job they are doing, that
they are adequately supported in their day-to-day roles and that they are
valued for the often difficult and challenging work they do," Jamieson

The executive’s strategy includes £3.5m
already allocated to local authorities for training and supporting front-line

In addition, a recruitment and awareness
campaign will be launched. A new honours degree course is to be created, open
to a wide range of individuals with differing skills and knowledge.

The Scottish executive’s strategy received
cross-party support but the SNP added that, having been promised three years
ago, it was too little too late. The Scottish Conservatives welcomed the move
but accused the executive of treating social care staff with
"contempt" by failing to give them more notice of the announcement.

The news followed the revelation by Edinburgh
University that it was to scrap its social work degree course in the autumn and
move all other social work training to the faculty of law, to be offered
alongside criminology (News, page 12, 18 April).

The number of graduates in Scotland with a
professional degree in social work fell from 303 in 1996 to 193 in 1999.

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