A year to hold heads high

    In one of the most significant developments for social work in
    the past 30 years, in 2005 social work will finally become a
    profession. A new law to protect the title of social worker comes
    into force in just a few weeks.

    By the end of 2004, the General Social Care Council had received
    65,000 applications to register. Although it will take some time
    for every applicant to become a registered social worker, each
    application restates the dedication to excellence by each
    individual social worker.

    With registration, service users can be sure that their social
    worker is properly qualified, committed to high standards and
    accountable for the care they deliver. Social workers will be
    recognised for the professional skills and values they already
    have. They will join their peers from other professions in having
    their title enshrined in law and their reputation will be
    safeguarded.

    Much is also happening in education and training, which is key
    to career development. Details of the new framework for
    post-qualifying awards will be published in the spring. Over the
    year, the first registered social workers who applied when the
    register opened in April 2003 will be looking to complete their 90
    hours of ongoing professional learning and training before they
    need to re-register next year.

    As the new structures in children’s services bed down, some will
    fear that new roles may erode the traditional position of social
    workers. But it will also offer new opportunities, as the training
    and values of social work put social work professionals in an ideal
    position to lead and work with colleagues from other sectors in
    multi-disciplinary teams. Who better to straddle the sector
    boundaries and navigate the complex needs of people and their
    families than the social worker?

    Protecting the professionalism of social work will be key to the
    future careers of all social workers. Let’s make 2005 a year of
    which we can be proud.

    Rodney Brooke, chair of the General Social Care
    Council.

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