Councils will struggle to sustain growth in newly qualified social worker schemes because resources are already stretched, according to a leading social care academic.
Sue White, chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work, said it was “unsurprising” that the government had guaranteed funding for the NQSW schemes for only one more year.
“It is hard to see how already-stretched local authorities will be able to sustain the growth in NQSW programmes,” she said.
“We will have to hope that some of the benefits they yield become apparent quickly and create the intrinsic incentives necessary to implement these schemes properly and effectively.”
In its implementation plan for the Social Work Task Force’s recommendations, the government pledged to continue funding local authority and third sector employers to engage in NQSW programmes throughout 2010-11.
It said the Children’s Workforce Development Council and Skills for Care should build on these programmes to develop the assessed year in employment, which will be piloted from 2012 and is expected to be in place by September 2016.
Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, which is running the NQSW programme in adult services, said she was confident the Social Work Reform Board would invest some of its funds in the NQSW programmes.
“The plan is for the NQSW to merge into the assessed year over time,” she said. “[The reform board] wants to make sure it’s a smooth metamorphosis.”
Skills for Care recruited 1,060 NQSWs and 882 supervisors to its programme in 2009-10, and has agreed with the Department of Health to recruit at least 1,000 more NQSWs in 2010-11.
The CWDC recruited 2,000 NQSWs in 2009-10 and is working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to agree the detail of its work for 2010-11.