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Thinking of returning to social work after a career break? We take a look at what you need to do and what's on offer to help.

With a shortage of social workers in both adults and children's services, experienced practitioners who have taken a career break are being encouraged to come back to the profession. However, it may not be as simple as taking up where you left off, particularly if you've been away for more than two years. Before you can re-register with the Health and Professions Council (HCPC), you need to complete some additional study: 30 days of CPD for a break of two-five years or 60 days for more than five years. 

In September the Local Government Association, Department of Health and Department for Education teamed up to pilot the Come Back to Social Work scheme. It's providing free training for up to 30 social workers who applied before 30 September, giving them a range of support resources, including learning and development workshops, coaching, mentoring and guidance on developing a CPD portfolio. The aim is to help prepare them to re-register with the HCPC and re-enter practice in 2017. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out over future years, albeit under a new social work regulator; the plans for which are still very much in their infancy. 

The HCPC has published a guide for professionals who have taken a career break and are thinking of going back into practice.  In addition, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has created a set of learning materials, featuring exercises and activities to support CPD for returners by embedding learning and applying it to practice.

Once re-registered, many social workers opt for locum or contract work, which is a good way of achieving more career flexibility, particularly if you're balancing work with other commitments.

If you've been away from the world of work for some time though, one important area to focus on is interview technique. We've put together two guides with useful tips to help you prepare for a social work job interview in both adults and children's services.

"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," said Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, at the launch of the Come Back to Social Work programme. If you're an experienced social worker thinking of returning to the profession, you can be sure of one thing: your skills are very much in demand.

Email a friend
DUNCAN COX, 09 December 2016, 11:18 AM
Am returning to social work after break of 5 years.
Previously registered with CCW - this has lapsed now. Currently in process to register with SCCC.
Would be interested in information related to returning to practice.
Thank you
Jack Smith, 09 December 2016, 12:30 PM
Hi Duncan,

We have another blog called 'Starting out in social work' which you can read here:

If there is anything else you wish to ask feel free to call one of our consultants at; 0333 7000 022

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