Social worker recruitment is just the job

More than 160 permanent social workers have been appointed by Somerset County Council’s children’s service in the last two years, key councillors were told today.

Since August 2015, 165 have joined the council following a recruitment push in support of the authority’s improvement work in the service.

And, as set out in a report discussed by the Council’s Cabinet, the annual turnover rate for all social work staff has been more than halved from a peak of 27 per cent in 2015-16, with front-line turnover down to 8 per cent.

The Children’s Workforce Development Strategy sets out the progress made in recruitment and development of the Children’s workforce. Social media advertising, better online information, presence at recruitment fairs and ‘try before you apply’ opportunities have all helped attract new applicants.

Smaller caseloads, clearer career progression, improved supervision, greater support for staff health and wellbeing and a ‘talk before you walk’ ethos have all helped improve retention.

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Social work staff are in great demand across the country and are obviously absolutely fundamental to making improvements – more staff and more permanent staff mean more manageable caseloads and continuity for the children we look after.

“We have put a huge amount of effort into recruitment and retention and it’s pleasing to see the results. We are working hard to make Somerset a place that people want to come and work, and a place that they want to stay once they are here”.

The council currently has around 240 permanent social work staff and around 60 locum. In May 2015 the figures were around 180 permanent and around 70 locum.

The new recruits include Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) social workers, who receive additional guidance and oversight in their first year of practice. Of the 71 ASYE social workers recruited, 69 are still with the authority and 70 per cent have said they intend to stay with the authority for at least three years.

Anyone with an interest in joining Somerset’s Children’s Services can find more information about working for the council and the opportunities available online