The government has recently unveiled a new study that will follow newly qualified children’s social workers across their careers for five years to learn more about social worker recruitment, development and retraining.
It’s important for those in charge to understand more about the journey of those on the front line, as retention is cited as one of the most serious problems by leaders in social care in a survey taken earlier this year. People leaving the profession don’t just leave a vacancy to be filled, they represent a loss of all the resources that have gone into training, work experience placements, and examinations to ensure that person is fully qualified for the job.
Stemming the flow of talent leaving social work is clearly a priority: the Return to Social Work Scheme aims at encouraging people who have already left back into their profession, where their experience and training allows them to be quickly deployed where they are most needed. This new study, on the other hand, should help to identify pressure points and factors that lead people to decide to leave in the first place.
With the study lasting over five years and following four and a half thousand social workers, it should produce a complete picture of the early years in the job, and find the points at which people choose to leave and why. Whether it’s a lack of clear structure and progression, or simple stress, the findings are likely to come together into an authoritative document that will guide local area authorities all over the country.
If the findings show the majority of people leaving social work do so because of the stress of over work and under resourcing it will make a compelling argument for releasing more funds to train more social workers. ‘Experimental statistics’ showing more than 60% of social workers leave the front line. If the report identifies the reason for this as there not being enough social workers, releasing the funds to train more makes sound business sense: the cost of training more social workers more than pays for itself as it means more already trained social workers stay on in their job!
Whatever the results, this report is likely to produce dramatic effects in the social work sector, with new structures and funding coming into place due to it. Look for the results as they’re published for more clues about the future of social care.
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