Interest in courses surges as third phase of recruitment drive kicks off

The number of people applying to do social work courses has
increased by more than 8 per cent in the past year, according to
provisional data from the Social Work Admissions System.

The news, announced last week, coincided with the launch of the
third phase of the government’s three-year social work recruitment
campaign worth £2m.

The number of applications through the admissions system – 60 per
cent of the total – rose from 4,680 in 2001 to 5,070 in 2002. The
other 40 per cent apply directly to colleges or through other

The three-year campaign, which was launched by health secretary
Alan Milburn at the National Social Services Conference in October
2001, is intended to dispel myths about social work after research
showed that a lack of understanding of the profession hindered
recruitment. It also promotes the three-year degree course, which
will have its first student intake next October.

The second phase of the £2m campaign was launched in May and
efforts were stepped up in the South East where recruitment
problems are most severe.

Since October 2001, there have been 22,571 telephone calls to the
Department of Health’s dedicated hotline and 21,132 hits on its

Almost one in four callers to the hotline during spring 2002 were
from the banking, business and IT sectors.

This group represented the highest proportion of callers,
outnumbering enquiries from the voluntary and public sectors.

Social services minister Jacqui Smith said: “These figures are very
encouraging and I am optimistic that the national campaign, with
the support of national and local organisations, can help attract
even more people to social work.”

The government is committed to increasing the number of social work
training applicants by 5,000 before the end of 2004, she added.

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