Flexible measures help reduce staffing problems at councils

Recruitment difficulties in the public sector are easing,
writes Derren Hayes.

The number of public sector employers facing recruitment
difficulties fell from 90 per cent in 2004 to 83 per cent this
year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Development’s annual workforce survey. But more private firms
reported problems.

Tony Hunter, president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services, said greater efforts to create “more flexible employment
practices and stimulating working environments” have paid off and
that the figures reflected “some of the emphasis nationally and
locally on the value that social care and social work has now in

Management and professional vacancies were the most difficult to

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, said: “The investment in leadership programmes in social
care is paltry compared with the health service. We need people to
empower staff and make them feel valuable.”

Tony Garthwaite, social services director at Bridgend Council, said
too many social care staff were being promoted without first going
through management training.

“Someone is a practitioner today and a manager tomorrow and there’s
not much in between – you find yourself thrown in at the deep end.
From these positions come your future leaders.”

Easier recruitment in the sector could also be the result of
councils looking overseas to fill positions. The survey found that
44 per cent of public sector employers recruited overseas; more
than half said this had increased over the past year.

The ADSS is wary of encouraging councils to recruit staff from
overseas because of concerns their skills are needed more in their
own countries.

But Hunter said most new recruits were coming from western Europe.

Garthwaite said ethical overseas recruitment filled a short-term
need and helped departments better meet the needs of diverse

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