by Mike Wardle
Today marks three years since the introduction of Protection of Title for the term ‘social worker’– meaning that anyone wanting to work as a social worker must first be registered with the General Social Care Council and our sister councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Many of the benefits of regulation are in place, helping to drive up standards and provide better protection for people who use services. Over the past three years we have seen the introduction of a post-qualifying framework of training (PQ) and each social worker who registered with us back in early 2005 will have completed 90 hours or more of Post-Registration, Training and Learning (PRTL). The codes of practice have been embedded as underpinning standards for social care, and we have used the codes to take action against 33 social workers found not to have lived up to those standards.
As a regulated workforce, social workers should now be able take their place as equals amongst other professions they engage with. Regulation has helped in building a strong professional identity for social workers. There is still more to do before social work is really understood and the contribution social workers make to society recognised not just within the sector, but also by the general public.
The General Social Care Council will continue to do what we can to champion social care and promote its image through high quality regulation and training. We hope social workers will do their bit by maximising any opportunity available to develop their skills and knowledge. In turn we will make the necessary changes to the PRTL system if our current review indicates that is what is needed.
The social care landscape is changing more rapidly than ever before. Services face major reform, with the ambition of ensuring that people receive the services that best meet their individual needs, and enable them to live happy, safe and fulfilling lives. There are challenges ahead for the workforce in delivering these reforms. As the regulator of the workforce and its education and training, we will ensure that we support these changes.
Regulation has seen the consolidation of social work into a competent and compassionate profession and all social workers can be proud of their contribution to that.
Mike Wardle is chief executive of the General Social Care Council
‘Making social care work’, the GSCC’s annual conference, will take place on Tuesday 6 May at the QE11 conference centre in Westminster. This free event will explore the challenges ahead for the workforce in delivering reform.