Scheme to help 100 people return to social work open for applications

Return to Social Work programme will provide retraining for people who have been out of profession for two to five years

A programme to help experienced adults’ and children’s social workers return to the profession is now open for applications.

The Return to Social Work programme, commissioned by the Local Government Association, has partnered with three regions in England – London, the West Midlands and East of England – to offer placements to 100 practitioners.

The programme is open to qualified social workers with a minimum of two years’ experience who have been out of the profession for between two and five years.

Programme content

Successful applicants will be provided with 30 days’ training over 15 weeks free of charge to prepare them to re-register with the Health and Care Professions Council, and return to practice in 2018.

The programme will cover the government’s Knowledge and Skills Statements for children’s social work, the Professional Capabilities Framework, social work law, ethics, managing risk and safeguarding.

It is likely to involve some supervised practice with local employers, and will also include group based learning and reflective supervision sessions and coaching. Participants will also be asked to complete a critical reflective account of the programme and a personal development plan.

The scheme will be delivered by workforce development consultancy Chinara Enterprises and Making Research Count, which is based at King’s College London and works to disseminate research to social work practitioners and managers.

Vacancy problem

The programme aims to increase the number of social workers in the sector, at a time when social worker vacancy rates are running high.

According to the Local Government Association, latest figures show there were 5,540 vacancies for child and family social workers in 2016, almost 13% of the workforce. The vacancy rate for adults’ social workers sat at 11% in 2016.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It’s easier than people think to come back to social work, and this scheme will give 100 social workers the opportunity to retrain without cost.

“Social workers are extremely motivated by their passion for the profession and we have that those who are contemplating returning take up this offer, as they can definitely make a difference for people.”

The programme is funded by a grant from the government’s returner programme, which seeks to provide training for people who have taken time out of the workplace.

It follows the LGA’s Come Back to Social Work campaign, which retrained 30 experienced social workers from adults’ and children and families’ social work in 2016-17.

The deadline for applications is 19 November 2017. Applications will be assessed by a panel and then some candidates will be invited for interview. Applicants unsuccessful at this stage will be offered further advice on returning to the profession. Apply here.

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10 Responses to Scheme to help 100 people return to social work open for applications

  1. Joy October 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    2-5 years doesn’t seem very long to me. I returned to social work in 2003 after 19 years!!!

    • Mary D October 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      I’m trying to return after six years raising kids. If u have any tips on how u returned after 19 years I would be really grateful!

      • Nicola October 25, 2017 at 11:22 am #

        Some universities offer return to social work courses. There is a fee, but they can also arrange supervised practice.

    • Brygida October 24, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

      Wow!and how did you do that?if you don’t mind me asking. I agree, 2-5years is not long. I’m trying to return after nearly 10years and find it extremely difficult 🙁

  2. Steven October 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

    Just looking to gauge how many are in the same boat…if there were a programme for those out of social work for 5 years how many peeps out there woudlbe interested?

    • Kate November 20, 2017 at 8:30 pm #


  3. Mel October 24, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    I’m also trying to return to social work after 6 years bringing up my children.
    I’ve explored multiple avenues to no avail.
    The main difficulty is finding a registered social worker to oversee x amount of hours of practice as outlined by HCPC.
    I’m now working as a volunteer for a charity ( advocacy and RPR) but there is no social worker in this organisation.
    My local children’s social services department has been removed from council control.
    I have both adult’s and children’s service experience but can not see a way back in.

  4. Theresa October 25, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    I have just tried to return after 2 yrs away (although doing some work as a social care volunteer). I was offered a job, although this was at a newly qualified grade, despite 17yrs experience. ( My circumstances have changed, and I’m not going to return until next year.) It’s the first time I’ve realised about the gender pay gap. Spending a short time away was being used as an excuse for offering a lower salary, citing that social work legislation has moved on – but the skills needed to undertake the work haven’t

  5. Marion October 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    I totally agree that 2-5 years is not long at all. Like the comment above from Joy, after 10 years experience, I returned to statutory children’s SW after 19 years!! And doing great and loving it!!
    I found it extremely difficult finding my way through but did loads of updating on line and attended the Return to SW course at A University which was open to everyone trying to return to SW. There were about 20 of us, all saying how hard it was to return!
    I then found the Transitions program on the Devon LA website and haven’t looked back since. Devon offer shadowing and their transitions programme is like a ‘mini-ASYE’. I can highly recommend it to anyone, no matter how long you’ve been out of SW.

  6. Maggie Siviter November 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

    How about a scheme which supported social workers to maintain their skills & knowledge whilst they are taking time out? This could be offered through a local university, paid for by central government, or even through innovation funding. The scheme could include supervision & mentoring, access to day courses on work related knowledge updates, practice based sessions, reflective analysis of observations of practice. Other roles related to maintaining skills & knowledge could be used to evidence maintenance of required skills & knowledge. The social worker’s HCPC registration could be maintained on a sabbatical basis with only verification of attendance of training & a reference provided by the supervisor mentor to resume full practice registration.