Recruiting social workers

Posted on September 1, 2009

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Ed_Balls_MPI haven’t yet seen the ads, so it may be too early to comment, but are hard-hitting government campaigns like the one currently being planned to recruit more than 5,000 social workers really the best use of public funds?

It’s not that something doesn’t need doing, urgently, because it does. 

But turning to the big-hitting product agencies with little or no understanding of why people do the job of social worker, who have no normative basis for discerning between motivations for joining the profession versus joining a specific part of the profession – such as safeguarding in children and families care – who have no experience of the different attitudes that are found amongst workers with different employers (rural versus urban being an obvious and immediate one that springs to mind) often leads to little more than a campaign centred on the hackneyed idea that you can make a difference.

But why this particular difference?  Why not teaching or nursing or working for a children’s charity?  What will support the attention-grabbing campaign, littered with actors and a massive budget?  Better education as to what social work actually involves?  A re-focusing of budgets away from an endless conveyor belt of those at the start of their careers towards career changers?  People whose life experience is invaluable in social care?

It’s all very well peddling the “making a difference” line, but is it going to be backed up by recruiting people that are capable of making the difference that is needed?  Or, as with many televisual and filmic treatments today, will this simply be a way of spending lots of money on production values, with little thought or attention paid to the content?  Let’s wait and see.

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