Councils still struggle to recruit social workers

Councils have improved recruitment and staff development opportunities, but are still struggling to hire social workers, a survey has shown.

Local Government Association Group findings show that recruitment and retention difficulties have fallen sharply – only 52% of councils reported any problems, compared to 83% last year and 93% in 2004.

However, the Local Government Workforce Survey found that recruiting social workers has become more problematic.

Seventy-two per cent of authorities with recruitment and retention difficulties have problems in recruiting children’s social workers, up from 64% in 2008.

Just under half (46%) reported problems in recruiting adult social care workers, up from 36% in 2008, and one-third (32%) are finding it hard to recruit mental health social workers – a slight rise from 25% in 2008.

The number of councils implementing or considering a total rewards approach – adding components such as learning and development into employees’ benefits package – has dropped to 28%.

Of those that had introduced a total rewards approach – flexible leave and benefits were the most common features.

Sir Steve Bullock, chairman of the LGA’s human resources panel said: “There has been huge progress in addressing local government’s shared workforce issues. Many of the important occupational skills shortages that have bedevilled local government are reducing, and we are taking action to support authorities in dealing with their difficulties in recruiting social workers.”

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