Graduates offered £20K to train as social work managers

Government plans to offer graduates £20,000 to take up a career in social care will not go far enough to ease the sector’s recruitment crisis, experts have warned.

Later this month the Department of Health will launch apilot ‘national management training programme’ for 20 recent graduates from any discipline, which will offer each person a £20,000 ‘golden hello’ to take the course. The Department has said the money can be used by students to support them while they study.

The programme, run by the National Skills Academy (NSA), will cost £745,000 and is hoped to attract new talent into the profession.

However, Des Kelly, chief executive of the National Care Forum which represents not-for-profit care providers, warned that the proposals were too “modest” to attract people to the industry long-term.

He told Personnel Today: “One incentive on its own is not enough. Getting good leaders into the sector is a start but it’s just one approach to the problem. It’s not a magic bullet.”

Kelly said more funding should be directed towards promoting career paths in the sector. Recruits must also receive proper staff supervision to help them see social work as a desirable career, he added.

Research by Personnel Today’s sister publication Community Care revealed last month that more than a quarter of care workers currently receive no supervision, and are unaware of valid career paths.

Moira Brown, HR director at private care provider Care South, questioned the impact the management scheme might have on a sector which struggles to recruit junior, frontline staff.

“It’s good to hear about this initiative by the government, but we can’t forget that we need other people to do the hands-on work. We need more people actually delivering the operational heart of the business,” she said.

Jill Timms, group manager in charge of HR at private care firm Peverel Court Care Homes, said training courses need better accreditation so that people outside the industry were aware of their worth and the level of skills involved.

About one in nine social care positions remain vacant, according to recent research, and the stress of working in the sector has caused 72% of social workers to say they feel close to burnout.

Jennifer Bernard, the consulting director who will run the traiing programme for the NSA, said: “We hope [the programme] will help with recruitment in the sector. It’s a great way to get people into social care and once in they can spread the word about the opportunities available.”

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