National 'Return to Social Work' drive could help services in Bucks

A national drive to encourage former social workers to return to the profession could help struggling services in Bucks.
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The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils across England and Wales, has teamed up with the Government Equalities Office to reignite the Return to Social Work programme following its success in 2017.

The national scheme, which aims to get former social workers back into the care sector, has already trained and recruited dozens of staff.

And this could spell good news for Bucks. A recent Ofsted of Bucks County Council's failing children's services department noted that staff retention and recruitment was an ongoing struggle.

Bucks County Council's offices in AylesburyBucks County Council's offices in Aylesbury
Bucks County Council's offices in Aylesbury

Candidates will be eligible to apply for the scheme until 31 March, with the programme beginning in May 2020. Placements vary according to how long trained social workers have been out of the profession.

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.

60 per cent of councils say the retention of care staff is one the biggest challenges facing the sector.

The LGA says that by getting more social workers back into our communities, we can ensure that vulnerable adults and children can continue to rely on the support of social workers they so desperately need.

The scheme’s success could also see it replicated across other local government professions identified as at risk of recruitment crises – including planning, ICT and legal departments, central to the functioning of local government.

Across these professions, 55 per cent of councils report that they have difficulties recruiting planners, 24 per cent report difficulties recruiting legal staff and 17 report difficulties recruiting ICT professionals.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils are committed to ensuring children and adults of all ages have access to high quality care and support.

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

“The LGA looks forward to working with the Government Equalities Office to ensure our communities are equipped with social workers that they need as demand increases.”

Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said: “No one should be held back in their career because they have taken time out of their job to care for a loved one.

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

“We are investing in returners to work – giving them the opportunity to refresh and grow their skills. By acting on this issue we can fill empty jobs across the country and achieve true equality in our workplaces.”

More information on the application process can be found HERE

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