Social work has been in crisis for some time, and more so than ever now, in the aftermath of the Baby P case. According to the Local Government Association (LGA)'s Respect and Protect report, one in 10 social work posts is vacant at any one time. In fact, so few people now want to work in the beleaguered sector that the LGA is to ask up to 5,000 retired social workers to come back to work.
That's 5000 people who may be out of date with legislation, working practice, even technology. As if the sector wasn't in enough of a mess.
Much has been said and written about what organisations lose when their older workers retire, particularly soft skills such as dealing face-to-face with customers, or historical knowledge of the organisation and how it operates. But, except in extreme cases, such as that currently faced by social work bosses, wouldn't it make more sense to keep the knowledge within the company and train younger staff properly, rather than going to the expense and inconvenience of rehiring retirees?
Of course it depends on how long people have been rehired, but have companies thought through the financial implications of training returning retirees? And although personal financial needs may well mean that people are keen to come back to work, surely the majority would prefer to enjoy their well-earned retirement.