Training boost for Scotlands social workers

Scotland’s social care workforce is to receive a £17m training boost.

The Scottish executive’s social services workforce strategy for 2005-10 sets out plans to develop professionals – from directors to front-line care staff – with a more flexible set of skills to enable them to work in a broader range of settings.

The strategy puts forward two key solutions to building a competent, confident and valued workforce:

• Developing creative strategies to recruiting and retaining staff.
• Creating a culture where learning and training is part of every workplace and offering opportunities to all levels of staff and every part of the career.

A highly flexible workforce is seen as crucial to providing modern and varied care needs. The strategy emphasises the need for joint working and multi-agency teams covering health, education, justice, housing and social care based around the client. It also stresses that service users and carers should be involved in planning a workforce suited to their needs. It also recognises the role of 600,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, which provide 80 per cent of all care to those who need it and states that social care staff must be trained and developed to provide the link between carers and services.

It will apply to staff in the statutory, private and voluntary sectors and also sets a series of targets during 2006 and 2007 for the executive, employers and social care training bodies.

These include developing the use of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework in colleges, offering more and better training opportunities for staff and streamlining sources of funding.

The executive believes a revamp of training is needed to address changes in the needs of service users and population demographics, and the shortage of workers and skills.

• Local authorities will have £11 million in 2006-2008 in Specific Training Grant funding.
• The independent sector will receive a further £2.9 million over 2006-2008. This will support the provision of training and development covering the social service workforce excluding early education and childcare. Seprate funding is available to support this sector.
• A further £3 million in 2005-2008 will go to support 4 Learning Networks which are expected to take forward workforce development and workforce planning at a regional and local level.

Robert Brown, deputy minister for education and young people, said that the strategy will provide a basis for any proposals that come out of the 21st Century Review and the review of the child care workforce. He added: “We recognise it’s vital that our social services staff not only feel valued for their good work but are fully equipped and supported to undertake it.”

Carole Wilkinson, chief executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, said: “We want it to be read and used not just by employers but by managers, front-line workers, service users and unpaid carers.

“I believe this is a strategy that enforces the importance of investing in the social service workforce and increasing the level of skills across the sector.”

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