Career Clinic

Q: I’m thinking about doing voluntary work abroad, but don’t know how long for. I am concerned about the effect of this on my GSCC registration and my ability to meet my 15-day training requirement over three years if I’m away for a substantial period. I e-mailed the GSCC to enquire but didn’t get a reply.

The requirement to quantify your post-registration training and learning (PRTL) shouldn’t be viewed as a tick box exercise where you set about totting up 15 days of training events then breathe a sigh of relief and forget about it. It’s more about looking at everything you do and thinking about how it has helped develop you as a professional practitioner.

It’s easy to see how a day at a conference, or a specific piece of post-qualifying training can help you towards re-registration. But there are many other ways you can demonstrate ongoing learning. This might be as simple as reading up on an area you have limited experience in. What matters is that you are able to demonstrate on the form that you are developing and learning.

I suggest you think about the kind of voluntary work you are thinking of doing. If it is under the umbrella of an established group such as VSO, you would almost certainly undertake specific training in the UK before embarking on the work, and this may itself count towards the tally. While you are doing the work, it may be that you have the opportunity to observe and learn from other professionals, which may also count.

Don’t forget that ongoing professional development – and the ability to evidence it – will be helpful to you throughout your career, so get into the habit of logging everything you do as you go along. You will find it so much easier to prepare for promotional opportunities and acting-up arrangements when you can see at a glance what you have done and how you have benefited from it.

In terms of getting a response from the GSCC, remember that if you don’t get an answer to an email inquiry, pick up the telephone and talk to a human being. You will find the names and contact details for the different regions on the GSCC’s website at

Alison Sanger is a social care consultant

A: I’ve been thinking of doing the same recently and, although the GSCC’s website isn’t totally clear, it does say that there are “many ways to continue to learn and develop as a social worker”, so I don’t see why that couldn’t include relevant experiences abroad.

I guess it just depends whether the voluntary work you were planning to do is relevant in any way to social work or not. If it is, it shouldn’t be too hard to demonstrate what you learned while there. If not, this might be significantly harder – although presumably you won’t be away for the whole three years so should have time either end to work in social care and clock up your PRTL hours then anyway.

Name and address withheld

1 November question

Q:  I’m a member of Unison and have recently been asked if I’d like to play a more active role, possibly as a shop steward where I work. Although I am interested in taking this on, I am worried that doing so may affect my career prospects. What do you advise?

We will answer this question in the 1 November issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice: please send it to by 22 October

Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions for consideration by our HR expert and your peers to

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.