Councils urged to cast net wider in overseas staff trawl


    Despite record numbers of overseas social workers coming to the UK,
    some recruitment agencies believe many local authorities are
    overlooking qualified social workers from countries outside the
    Commonwealth and Europe.



    Figures published earlier this month show the number of overseas
    social workers entering the UK between April 2003 and March 2004
    rose 82 per cent to 2,524, the largest increase recorded so far,
    according to the Department of Health.



    Local authorities have for some time looked to Australia, New
    Zealand and South Africa to recruit social workers and more
    recently countries such as Holland and Poland. The biggest increase
    is from


    non-EU countries, including India (156 per cent) and Canada (118
    per cent).


    But recruitment companies remain puzzled over why they are unable
    to find authorities interested in employing Filipino social
    workers. After all, the NHS has recruited thousands of nurses from
    the Philippines.


    A spokesperson for one major recruitment agency wishing to remain
    anonymous said: “They have a lot of experience in child
    protection cases and are keen to work abroad,” he said.
    “It could solve the recruitment problem overnight but
    councils are just not keen to take them at the
    moment.”



    Lawrence Perry, managing director of Dolma International, which
    specialises in recruitment from the Philippines, said he received
    initial interest from a number of authorities but none followed
    this through. “A major agency came to us inquiring whether we
    could find 61 social workers for a local authority. We sent them
    details on more than 90 but they decided to recruit from Australia
    instead,” he explained.



    Buckinghamshire Council made initial inquiries about recruiting
    from the Philippines but decided to focus on Canada instead, where
    there is a surplus of social workers. The authority felt it
    unethical to recruit from the Philippines, a country needing its
    social workers for its own citizens.



    Tracie Reid, senior human resources officer for Buckinghamshire
    social services’ children and families department, said the
    decision allowed the council to improve understanding of gaps in
    Canadian social workers’ knowledge “rather than going
    to a host of countries all with different
    approaches”.

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