Keeping up to date with social work

Meaghan Roland responds to a social work graduate in the north of England who is out of work but needs to keep up to date on developments in the sector

Q: I came to the UK from Zimbabwe in 1999 as an international student. I did my social work degree at Kingston University, London, but have not worked as a social worker due to work permit problems. I now live in the north of England and have been working as support worker in social care. In the past year I have been looking for a social work job after sorting out my papers but I have no experience. I want to renew my registration next year but how can I do that if I’m not practising?

A:It must feel as though you’re trapped in something of a vicious circle, but the good news is that there’s lots you can do to make yourself ready for work.

Make sure you have all the documentation you need to practise as a social worker in the UK, including your passport, evidence of right to work as well as the usual requirements, such as full Criminal Records Bureau clearance, General Social Care Council registration and copies of all qualifications. ItÕs also a good idea to gather references from previous employers and providers of student placements you completed.

Post-registration training and learning is a key condition for continued registration. It’s important to educate yourself on key policy and legislation issues and current ideas of best practice in social work.

Join a reputable locum agency which can place you in unqualified care roles that will allow you to gain more experience and work your way up. Good agencies will offer training free while you are working as a locum and it would be worthwhile to take advantage.

Join the British Association of Social Workers, attend conferences, careers fairs and events, such as Community Care Live, and network as much as you can. Not only could you meet potential employers but you’ll also be learning about the latest legislative developments.

Your placements have been in a variety of disciplines and it’s a good idea to choose a specialism and focus your training and learning around legislation in this area.

Once you have chosen a service and found an area that you’d like to work in, be prepared to enter at the level you are now and work your way up. To summarise: study, network, and specialise.

Meaghan Roland is a manager at HCL International, a leading health and social care staffing company

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This article is published in the 26 August issue of Community Care magazine under the heading I am not practising but want to renew registration

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