Thursday, 18 August 2011

Unemployed social workers

Hard on the heels of my last post – concerning child protection staff shortages – comes the puzzling revelation in Community Care that 27% (yes, twenty-seven percent) of newly qualified social workers in England are failing to find suitable jobs.

What is going on? Community Care quotes Professor Ray Jones who speculates that some of this may be due to public spending cuts. Perhaps he is right, but whatever the cause this looks like a case of serious waste with young people trained at public expense now failing to gain the experience they require to progress their careers. And we know that child protection services continue to operate with high levels of vacancy.

I suspect that local authorities would be more willing to fill their vacancies with experienced staff, but see newly qualified social workers as requiring too much support and not offering enough insight and experience to tackle child protection work effectively. It is a sorry situation.

I return to the theme I’ve been banging on about for a while now. Retention is the issue that needs to be addressed. And putting current employees under the continued pressure of working in under-staffed and under-resourced departments will only make matters worse. Somebody urgently needs to come up with proposals to halt the vicious cycle of decline that will otherwise result.