Training boss accuses councils of inadequate workforce investment

Skills for Care’s chief executive has challenged more of England’s councils to invest adequately in workforce development, but warned extra government funding would not be forthcoming.

Andrea Rowe made the comments as the workforce development body, in tandem with the Children’s Workforce Development Council, launched a continuing professional development strategy at this week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference.

The strategy applies to England’s entire million-strong social care workforce and not just qualified social workers.

Rowe said successful implementation of the strategy relied on councils’ readiness to use non-ringfenced government training grants as intended, particularly by investing in the independent and voluntary sectors.

This is particularly so, given that added government investment to implement the strategy is not likely to materialise despite its proposal for a social care equivalent of the NHS’s Agenda for Change pay system, which increased health’s wage bill.

Rowe said the Options for Excellence review, which is due to report tomorrow (Friday), would not deliver this. But she added: “There still remain local authorities who don’t take their responsibilities for supporting human resources development seriously and I can’t see why we allow that.”

Councils’ two specific training funding pots – the human resources development strategy and national training strategy grants – were collectively worth almost £160m in 2006-7, and are designed to be spent across all sectors.

But a survey last November by Learn to Care, which represents workforce development staff, found just 53 per cent of authorities planned to use all their grant on training and development in 2006-7.

Jo Cleary, co-chair of the Asso ciation of Directors of Social Services’ human resources committee, said councils would be better able to perform their leadership roles with the completion of the national minimum data set, which will give detailed information on local workforces.

The CPD strategy
● Social care should have clear career pathways, giving people options to progress, including “zigzag” pathways into other settings.
● All staff should have personal development plans against which they should be appraised.
● Employers must have a training plan and provide effective supervision for staff.

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