The Local Government Association (LGA), Department for Education and Department of Health are today launching a Come Back to Social Work campaign, to retrain both social workers for adults and children who have left the profession.
This programme will be crucial to increasing the number of experienced social workers at a time when vacancy rates are rising.
The Come Back to Social Work campaign is aiming to recruit 30 experienced social workers initially and is encouraging those interested to visit a jobs portal built by Jobsgopublic.
All applicants, whether successful or not, will have access to a personal development plan on the site for six months which will aim to help them with future applications. They will also be held in a talent pool which can be targeted by potential council employers.
Successful applicants will be informed later this month and will be provided with 13 weeks’ training to prepare them to re-register with the Health and Care Professions Council and be ready for work within councils from early 2017.
Latest figures show there were 1,700 vacancies for adult social workers in 2015 compared with 1,100 in 2014, up from 8 to 12 per cent of the workforce. The number of leavers increased from 12 to 13 per cent of the workforce between 2014 and 2015.
Vacancy rates for children’s social workers have increased by 15 to 17 per cent in the same period.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board Chairman, said:
“The shortage of experienced social workers is reaching crisis point. Many talented people have left or are leaving social work, and increased reliance on temporary workers is resulting in spiralling agency costs.
“It is experienced social workers who might take career breaks after seven years that we are particularly hoping to tempt back through this campaign.
“It’s easier than people think to come back to social work. This scheme will give 30 social workers the opportunity to retrain without cost. If you left social work between two and five years ago you may qualify for a place on the Come Back to Social Work pilot.
“We know that social workers are motivated by their passion for the profession and we hope to persuade those contemplating returning that they can definitely make a difference for people.”
Lyn Romeo, the Department of Health’s Chief Social Worker for Adults, said:
“This is an exciting time for social work as we refocus our efforts on working with people and their carers in their communities. Come Back to Social Work offers a fantastic opportunity to experienced social workers to be funded through intensive training. I want to welcome a strong cohort back into the profession to continue empowering people to lead the lives they want for themselves.”
Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, said:
“Those who have left social work to pursue other avenues still have a lot that they could offer to help improve the lives of our most vulnerable children, families and adults. The Come Back to Social Work pilot is a great way to help us learn how to overcome any perceived barriers to re-joining the profession and to encourage more former social workers to consider a return.”