Scheme to recruit former social workers relaunches


A national scheme to help former social workers return to the workplace is being relaunched to tackle increased difficulties faced by councils in retaining care staff.

Social workers on the scheme will be offered placements and training. Picture: Adobe Stock
Social workers on the scheme will be offered placements and training. Picture: Adobe Stock

The Local Government Association, in conjunction with the Government Equalities Office, will coordinate the Return to Social Work programme three years after it was initially rolled out.

The programme, which was first piloted by the LGA, Department for Education and the Department of Health in 2016, offers free training to former social workers to enable them to restart their careers in local government.

Candidates have until 31 March to apply for the scheme to get a placement, mentoring and interview preparation to help them get back into social work.

The amount of time spent on placements would depend on how long trained social workers have been out of the profession, the LGA said.

It is helping to relaunch the programme to address concerns from around 60 per cent of councils that feel retention of care staff is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector.

“Social workers and support staff are highly qualified professionals and do one of the most important, challenging jobs across local government.

“They do an incredible job every single day, but too many are finding it difficult to return to work,” the LGA said.

It added, if successful, the scheme could be replicated across other local government professions facing similar recruitment crises such as ICT and legal departments.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said councils were committed to ensuring children and adults had access to high-quality care and support.

“We are delighted to open up the scheme again after it proved so successful. Councils are desperate to get good-quality trained professionals on their books,” he said.

Minister for women and equalities Liz Truss said the government was investing in those returning to social work by providing them with the opportunity to refresh and develop their skills.

“Councils across the country need the talent, experience and care these people can bring to this vitally important work,” she said.

The programme, which will begin in May, will offer training placements for 200 former social workers.

Figures for the 2016 pilot showed 28 out of 30 candidates successfully returned to work.

Of those that took part in the 2017/18 programme, 52 out of 60 social workers restarted their careers.

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