Training for social workers on the rise

    Councils have increased their spending on training social workers
    by more than 60 per cent in the past two years.

    In the year to October 2004, £24m was spent on training social
    workers, up from £14m in the previous year. There were also
    nearly 2,000 field social workers seconded to Diploma of Social
    Work or degree courses on 31 October 2004, according to the Local
    Authority Social Care Workforce Survey 2004.

    Councils also spent £3.6m training managers in
    children’s services and £5.5m in adults’
    services.

    However, while there was an increase in the amount spent on
    bursaries or sponsorship – up by £1m to £2.6m
    – the numbers of students receiving money from councils for
    studying actually fell from 561 to 355 in the period 2002/3 to
    2003/4. But this fall in numbers was compensated in a rise of those
    who qualified on such schemes from 141 to 200.

    More than three-quarters of councils were also training up social
    work assistants to become social workers to tackle shortages while
    three-fifths were using improved IT systems to tackle recruitment
    and retention problems.

    The report also found that vacancy rates in social care were
    running at 11.1 per cent in 2004 up from 10.7 per cent in the
    previous year.

    Most of this increase can be accounted for by rises in vacancies
    among staff in homes for older people, adults and children.
    Vacancies among domiciliary care staff actually fell to 9.6 per
    cent but a third of councils did report difficulty in retaining
    them.

    London was hardest hit by vacancies with the average rate nearly
    twice as that as some regions among children’s social workers
    (18.6) and other social workers (20.6).

    Sixty-eight per cent of local authorities reported difficulties
    recruiting children’s social workers while 44 per cent said
    they had retaining children’s social workers.

    Councils cited problems with the nature of the work, competition
    from other local authorities, and applicant’s lack of
    experience when recruiting and retaining children’s social
    workers. Among social workers in general there were also problems
    with pay.

    Next month in-depth look at social work pay and benefits.

    • Report from Employers Organisation for local government www.lg-employers.gov.uk

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