Director urges councils to join up efforts to reduce staff shortages

Jenny Goodall, director of social services at Brent Council, has
called on local authorities to adopt a more co-ordinated approach
to tackling the skills crisis.

Goodall, a member of the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ human resources committee, said there was a need
for a more “serious and co-ordinated approach on a regional or
national basis” to workforce planning in social services.

Speaking last week at a conference on workforce planning held in
London, Goodall said there were 4,000 social workers in the capital
but no city-wide planning.

A national or regional approach could collect workforce
information, assess future staffing needs, run recruitment
campaigns, address the profession’s image problem and
organise resources for student and qualified training, she

Goodall called for councils to offer more creative recruitment
incentives and said there was a need for better monitoring of why
people left.

She said a database of successful recruitment practice was
needed and called on the government to take the lead through
providing funding on a similar level to that of the NHS.

“However, we do need to take a hard look at ourselves and at
those areas where we do have control and to make realistic
comparisons of the costs to put these measures in place compared
with the costs of carrying vacancies, lack of continuity of staff,
continuous recruitment and agency costs,” she said.

In Brent, a recruitment and retention programme has reduced
reliance on agency staff in some parts of children’s
services, but agency staff fill more than 50 per cent of posts in
referral and assessment and children in need teams.

John Northrop, director of Pay and Workforce Research, said its
surveys for councils found that increased workload and stress, poor
job satisfaction, lack of management support, training and security
were the main reasons for staff leaving. Social workers value job
security, good pay, job satisfaction, flexible hours and friendship
most highly.

The conference was organised by the Harrogate Management

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