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

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

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