Post-qualifying training for social workers could be under threat due to changes to the way the profession is regulated, sector leaders have warned.
The heads of the College of Social Work, the Social Work Reform Board, the General Social Care Council and three university bodies have written an open letter to social workers addressing concerns about the future of the PQ framework.
They urge social workers and employers not to “lose confidence” in PQ training due to the upheaval caused by the Health and Social Care Bill.
Currently, the GSCC approves PQ courses according to national standards but the Bill proposes abolishing the regulator by April 2012. Regulation of social workers will be handed to the Health Professions Council in July 2012, but the HPC will not take on responsibility for approving PQ courses, and the PQ framework will cease to exist in its current form.
Moira Gibb, chair of the reform board, Corinne May-Chahal, co-chair of the College, and Penny Thompson, chief executive of the GSCC, use the open letter to reassure practitioners that PQ awards would retain value after the framework is scrapped.
But they warned that the changes could hinder reforms to the wider system of continuing professional development.
They wrote: “As the changes in the Health and Social Care Bill are put in place, there is a risk that effective CPD training is lost or that employers and social workers lose confidence.”
The reform board is developing a new CPD framework, and it is hoped this will build on existing PQ awards. In the meantime, Gibb, May-Chahal and Thompson urged social workers and employers to continue using the existing PQ framework.
The College of Social Work will develop an endorsement framework for post-qualifying training once it is established as a legal entity.
In a statement on its website, the college said it remained committed to PQ courses and hoped they would “continue to be firmly embedded in arrangements for continuing professional development”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “We welcome this letter that explains the future of post qualification courses to the social work profession.
“The letter should reassure everyone that there will be a smooth, effective transition to the Health Professions Council.”
Also signing the letter were Hilary Tompsett, chair of the Joint University Council’s social work education committee, Jackie Rafferty, director of the Higher Education Academy’s subject centre for social work policy, and Sue White, chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work.
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