Eight out of ten fast-track social workers secure jobs

By Joe Lepper

| 15 April 2014

Around eighty per cent of students taking the fast-track Step Up to Social Work postgraduate course have secured jobs as children's social workers.

Nine out of ten students on the Step Up to Social Work course said it left them well prepared for a career in social work.

An evaluation of students on the 18-month course, which is only for graduates with experience of working with children and families, shows it has the potential to increase both the number and quality of social work candidates.

Earlier this year government figures showed there are more than 3,800 children’s social worker vacancies across councils in England.

This latest evaluation shows that of the 185 trainees who started in September 2010, 82 per cent were successfully recruited as social workers.

A similar proportion (79 per cent) of the 227 who started in March 2012 had also secured social worker jobs, although the evaluation report points out this figure could be far higher as a number of those surveyed were in the process of applying.

Of those who started their course in March 2012 one in five had a first class degree and 39 per cent already had a postgraduate qualification.

A lack of quality students in many social work courses was among key concerns raised by the government’s children’s adviser Martin Narey in his Making the Education of Social Workers Consistently Effective report, which was published in February.

The quality of work placement experience on the course, which is run by regional partnerships of councils and universities, was also praised by students. Six out of ten thought their placement had prepared them well to deal with hostile and aggressive families.

Overall nine out of ten said the course as a whole had left them well prepared for a career in social work.

However, students did raise some concerns. Some reported delays and uncertainties about job offers at the end of training. One told researchers that one council had “messed me about regarding a job”. This candidate instead opted to take another social work post elsewhere in the country, even though it involved relocation.

Another said: “The local authority initially guaranteed students jobs on completion, however this did not materialise.”

The evaluation points to the long-term implications of the programme being unclear.

When asked about their long-term plans just 52 per cent of those surveyed from the March 2012 intake wanted to stay in statutory children’s social work. The rest were looking to move into a range of associated social work roles such as management, adult social care or training.

Many of those surveyed placed a time limit of around two years on working in frontline children’s social work. One said: “I do not intend to stay in social work for longer than two years. I intend to work with young people in another less confrontational context.”

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