The difference in vacancy rates between children’s and adults’ social workers is negligible, with 12.1% of adults posts vacant compared with 13.0% of children’s, our figures show.
The data, from more than 80 councils, overturns any assumptions that only children’s social work is suffering a chronic shortage of staff. Thirty-six councils had more vacancies for those working with adults than they did for children’s services.
But expected guidance from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to the government on which professions have a shortfall in the UK is not thought to mention adult’s social workers.
The Observer reported in March that children’s social workers will remain on the list – allowing the recruitment of staff from outside the European Economic Area. A spokesman for the MAC would not confirm the report ahead of its publication, expected later this month.
Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, said: “It’s another example of children’s social workers being treated differently, but that’s not how things work on the ground.”
The similar vacancy rates for adults and children’s social workers follows massive investment in the children’s workforce that has not been replicated in adult care.
The Department of Health said its forthcoming strategy for adults’ services would “address recruitment and retention issues across social care”, and added that £4m will be invested in newly qualified social worker support.
However, as part of that programme, only £2,000 has been offered to local authorities to support each newly qualified adults’ social worker, while the Children Workforce Development Council’s separate pilot programme offered £4,000 to councils to support each new children’s social worker.
This is in addition to a national fund of £2.25m to support their supervisors.