Ed Balls urges other professionals to become social workers

Ed Balls

Two hundred lawyers, teachers and other professionals will be tempted to become children’s social workers through a new fast-track, on-the-job qualification route, children’s secretary Ed Balls said today.

They will be offered £15,000 a year to retrain as social workers in local authorities, with training costs also met, in a £9m scheme run by the Children’s Workforce Development Council.

Trainees are expected to take 12 to 18 months to qualify as social workers. Unlike the existing CWDC graduate recruitment scheme, under which career changes can retrain as social workers through a two-year masters course, the new scheme will not involve recruits returning to university.

Social work is ‘rewarding’

Balls said the scheme would seek to replicate the teaching profession’s success in luring career changers into education. He said: “I believe social work can offer a similarly rewarding change for many people mid-career. I’m not pretending it will be an easy job; social workers I talk to tell me of the huge challenges they face, but nearly all of them talk about the incredibly rewarding role they play.”

Responding to the announcement, Local Government Association vice-chair Jeremy Beecham said: “A focus on supporting people to change career is a good idea, but at a time when at least one in nine social worker posts is empty, such programmes are only a start.

Long-term drive to raise status needed

“What is needed is a long-term drive to raise the status and recruitment of social workers for years to come, so that the best and brightest staff are on the frontline protecting vulnerable children, and want to remain in those positions.”

Applications are now open for the new scheme and recruits will be selected next year. Local authorities interested in taking part should contact the Children’s Workforce Development Council on 0113 390 7628.

  • Would you like to see lawyers or police officers retraining as social workers? Is 12 months’ training enough? Have your say on CareSpace.

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