On Thursday 14th January 2016, Nicky Morgan announced details of the government’s plans to recruit over 3,000 new graduate social workers over the next five years. The government aims to put social workers “on a par with surgeons and lawyers”, in terms of its professional status.
How is this to be achieved? Well, the government is putting its faith in Frontline, a charity set up in 2013, which has been recruiting and training graduates in the South East and Manchester, with the aim of producing top quality social workers. Backed by £100m of government funding, the programme is to be rolled out across the country.
The programme aims to attract high quality graduates straight from university and also via talented people who are looking for a change of career. The two year programme begins with a five week summer school, after which you will be assigned to a local authority child protection team. You will emerge with a full Masters qualification, and a significant amount of real on-the-job work experience.
The plans have attracted controversy with some industry experts comparing this programme to the teacher training initiatives introduced over the last decade or so. According to these experts, what social work needs is talented people dedicated to a career in which they can help and have a positive influence on many people’s lives – not people who just fancy a career change. Basically, social work is a vocation, not just a job.
But it can’t be denied that social work is facing a talent deficit crisis, and something needs to be done. At the moment there are over 4000 unfilled social worker job vacancies being advertised, and recruitment levels are worryingly low – people are just not being attracted into social work. Why is this?
There have been a large number of high profile news stories over the last few years, involving a negative portrayal of social workers and the vital role they play. Mistakes have been highlighted, and the huge cost of these mistakes has been all too evident.
So it is time to shed a positive light on the role of the social worker. There are very few jobs in which you can have such a huge, positive influence on the life of another person. To get home from work knowing that you have helped someone to find a new foster parent, move into a new home, go back to school, or begin treatment for a drug addiction, must be incredibly satisfying.
The individual role of social workers varies hugely – there are many different areas of society in which you could work. It is also a fast moving area, keeping up to date as the world around us changes. For instance, some social workers might help with issues such as cyber bullying, or sexting.
And there are many different speciality social workers too – take the role of the Forensic Social Worker. As a Forensic Social Worker you will be responsible for the application of social work within the legal world. You could be giving advice to lawyers, paralegals or law students on social work issues. Or you might need to asses whether someone is able to stand in court and testify – you may even be called as an expert witness yourself.
In order to reflect this rapidly changing world we are constantly updating our career profiles. We want to be able to provide our users with the very latest, and most accurate careers information. The world of work does not stand still – and neither do we.
The new Frontline programme will open up the world of social work to many new people. Our updated career profiles can also be used in schools to show what an exciting, modern, crucial career social work is. We can then find the right people for the right career.
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