Campaign could answer social work staff crisis

The Government is considering a high-profile campaign to recruit social
workers. The much-needed recruitment drive would be similar to the recent
"No one forgets a good teacher" campaign.

A spokesman for the Social Services Directors’ Association said talks were
being held at senior official level.

The talks come as it emerged that Essex County Council has been forced to
recruit 16 social workers from South Africa because of a lack of applicants.

Difficulty in recruiting people into the social services is also threatening
new measures to safeguard children.

A report by the Social Services Inspectorate found 41 per cent of the 2,241
new posts created to introduce the Government’s Quality Protects measures
remain unfilled. Of 150 authorities in England, 105 say recruiting staff is the
main problem they face in implementing the measures.

An association spokesman said, "We launched our own minor campaign last
year. That was small beer. Who knows what effect a bigger campaign would have
but anything will make more of a difference than doing nothing."

Meanwhile, a £60,000-a-year recruitment specialist is being sought to build
on the work of the teaching campaign.

Civil servant Jane Benham, who coordinated the campaign, is returning to the
Department for Education and Employment.

The £1.5m campaign included a series of television advertisements in which
famous people including Prime Minister Tony Blair recalled teachers who had
influenced them.

By Helen Rowe

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