Ask the Expert: how can I get a qualified social work role?

Martin Salter offers advice to a foreign national with limited UK-based statutory experience on finding a qualified social work role during a period of council job shortages.

 Martin Salter offers advice to a foreign national with limited UK-based statutory experience on finding a qualified social work role during a period of council job shortages.

Q: I am a qualified social worker registered with the GSCC but have yet to find job. I have nine months work experience of adult mental health at Kingsbury, in the London Borough of Brent. How should I approach findng a permanent council job?

Currently I am supervising contact between foster children and birth parents through an agency on a temporary basis.

I’m from India originally and have obtained a work permit. I have applied for support worker roles through an agency and have been unsuccessful. I have applied for 10 or 12 social work jobs but have not been shortlisted because of my lack of experience.

Martin Salter replies:

Many local authorities are undertaking budget reviews, with many making difficult cuts to their services. As a result, you would be very unlikely to find work as a qualified social worker.

Due to job shortages, there is a lot of competition for qualified social work positions and those social workers with overseas qualifications have always tended to find it more difficult. Unfortunately, UK-based statutory experience has now become a deciding factor for an employer which means that you would be at a competitive disadvantage to other potential recruits.

However, I would like to state that this is no reflection on you, but simply an indication of how many social workers with strong statutory experience will be competing for the same support worker roles.

Councils have recruited internationally qualified social workers from countries outside the EU as part of formal recruitment drives, but this is seen as a serious career move and these professionals will have a good chance of succeeding in future applications.

People who enter the UK and settle for an unqualified job despite holding a social work qualification are perceived to be more concerned with entering the UK than any professional standing and you will have to work hard to challenge that perception in an interview.

You are working as a contact supervisor which could be taken up into a full time role, giving you an alternative option to ongoing support work. In order to further your training and development, there is also a range of refresher courses available relating to child protection or health and safety which could offer additional value to your CV.

However, if you are serious about working in a family support worker role, you could think about working in a children’s residential home or as a home carer, either of which could be a stepping stone to support work roles because they’ll give you further household experience. These may require additional training but your agency will be able to help you.

Alternatively you do have experience of supervised contact and an alternative career path could be that of a foster carer. You are over 21, you are suitable to work with children and you could commit full time – and you have shown yourself to be a determined and resourceful person.

Martin Salter, senior recruitment consultant, Sanctuary Personnel

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