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In a guest column in Sanctuary Social Work News Magazine, Social Work Tutor, voices concerns over the future social work workforce.



As things stand, national staff shortages are critical in social care with almost a fifth of all children's social work jobs in England vacant, the situation is not much better in adult care. 

Many social work departments, particularly those in child protection are feeling the strain. The temptation, it seems, is to claw back permanent staff from the pool of agency workers and fast-track those on government schemes into the profession.

With this in mind, several councils have taken to offering enticing permanent recruitment packages and with the updated IR35 tax rules, the hope is that permanent staff who left to work for agencies will come back into the fold. Yes, we do need more social workers, and whilst there is some rudimental logic to this approach, it fails to consider that many social workers choose the agency route for the flexibility, opportunity to work in a broad spectrum of roles, and for the professional challenge such roles bring.

Add to this that agency social workers do such an important job, most notably in time of crisis; coming in at short notice, picking up cases that are often in disarray and hitting the ground running, it’s clear that clawing back from the agency pool isn’t the only option we need to consider here.

So far, the Government's solution to the social work recruitment crisis has been to invest heavily into fast-track training schemes, with the aim of 25% of all newly qualified social workers in child protection having come through schemes such as Frontline. Although the notion of 'fast-tracking' people into our profession can stick in the craw of some; I've engaged with many fast-tracked workers and found them, for the most part, bright, caring and committed to children.

To read more about what Social Work Tutor thinks about fast-tracking and valuing experienced social workers, turn to page 22 in Sanctuary Social Work News

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