‘We get lots of CVs from newly qualified social workers. We’re looking for sharp people who can write well’

Should social work graduates apply for jobs at inadequate councils? How important is pay? Here are some views from social workers and managers.

Lambeth council hosted a session on developing newly qualified social workers at Community Care Live Children and Families yesterday. Here are some of the issues debated and advice offered to job seeking graduates:

Pay isn’t everything

The panel was keen to point out that those seeking a social work job should consider working conditions over and above pay. “You may be paid £2-3,000 more, but your manager may be inexperienced or there may not be the resources to support you,” said Andrew Wyatt, an assistant director at Lambeth.

Inadequate ratings

Wyatt also encouraged newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) in the room to avoid applying for jobs in children’s services departments that have recently been rated inadequate by Ofsted.

However, others disagreed. One delegate said that, as a student, she had been on placement at a local authority when Ofsted inspectors came in and rated it inadequate. “That was a real strength on my CV, that I was there and worked through it,” she said.

An assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) coordinator in the audience agreed. She said her employer is currently rated inadequate, yet they have just taken on more than 40 NQSWs. “They see it as a positive; the only way is up.”

And @HannahSmithNCC said on Twitter: “Key question should be about what support is offered and opportunities available regardless of Ofsted rating.”

Tips for students and NQSWs

Wyatt said he and his colleagues get lots of CVs. “What we’re looking for is people who can write well, who are sharp, who can make complex judgements. We want people who can think.” The panel encouraged people to draw on all of their life experience when filling out applications – not just one placement.

It was also made clear, again, how important it is to get a statutory placement if you can. One of the panelists explained that, knowing how important it was to get a statutory placement, she phoned Lambeth herself rather than leave it to someone at the university to organise. She was lucky enough to get through to the right people and was invited in for an interview. She got the placement and they offered her a job when she graduated.

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