Unison: Scottish children’s home workers face training crisis

Scottish children’s home workers may struggle to meet new minimum qualification requirements because of possible cuts in training budgets caused by the recession, Unison has warned.

Under new rules which came into force last month, residential childcare providers in Scotland must ensure all staff are registered with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Workers have been given until 2012 to ensure they have the necessary qualifications before being allowed to renew their registration. These include level four Scottish and National Vocational Qualification in health and social care or an equivalent diploma.

Financial support

Unison has welcomed the move towards a qualified, registered workforce. But Stephen Smellie, chair of Unison Scotland’s social work issues group, emphasised the need for financial support from government and employers in meeting the requirements.

“It is important that the resources for training are maintained to ensure that the existing and future workforce can attain the necessary qualifications to stay on the register,” he said.

“In the current financial situation we have concerns about this.”

The SSSC now has more than 4,000 residential childcare workers and managers on its register. Smellie said that, although one or two had missed the September deadline for registration, “the vast majority of members” were now on the register and working towards gaining the appropriate qualifications.

Free training

A spokesperson for the Scottish government spokesperson said money had been made available to the entire social services sector through a variety funds and grants since compulsory registration was introduced. The spokesperson added that, to meet the new requirements, significant investment in training for the residential childcare workforce had been made available through the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care to provide free training for workers and managers.

“Recent estimates from SIRCC suggest that continued investment should enable 94% of the workforce to meet current qualification requirements by 2012, all other factors remaining equal.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Social Services Council said “a commitment to funding for training is vital for the development of a competent and confident social services workforce”, and that “considerable progress” had been made in recent years in developing the skills of the workforce.

The spokesperson added: “It is crucial for the protection of the public and the development of a workforce that can meet their needs that training is seen as a priority.”

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