A MOVE to attract high-calibre social workers into the profession has been welcomed.
The Government has pumped millions into its Step Up to Social Work Programme, designed to attract high-calibre graduates, or graduate workers looking for a career change.
And it is offering a big incentive: all fees paid and a bursary of £19,833 in Kirklees for a full-time 14-month course starting next January. Successful students will exit with a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work and the guarantee of a job interview.
The response from applicants in Yorkshire has been excellent and Kirklees is leading the way in introducing state-of-the-art training which is to be rolled out across the country.
The likelihood of trainees getting a job is high, with Yorkshire and the Humber offering 44 places at the end of the 14 months.
Suzanne Triggs, Kirklees Council social work development officer, said: “We welcome this initiative. It is fantastic that the Government has given a tangible expression of the value of social workers in this time of austerity.
“It is a great commitment, we need to get more people into the job of the right calibre.”
Unlike some local authorities, Kirklees has an excellent record for recruiting and retaining social workers, and has been involved in helping the Government to develop the innovative new course.
Students from Kirklees will have some lectures in Leeds and also the option of distance learning online. All will spend 170 days on work placements around the borough.
Kirklees devised a rigorous selection process involving a day of aptitude tests at an assessment centre, which will have university input and face-to-face interviews with social service users. This unique scheme is due to be introduced throughout England in the near future.
Suzanne said: “It’s a cliché that people go into social work to make a difference, but they really do.
“It is about building relationships and working with people who are marginalised and helping them to take some control over their lives when things can seem chaotic.
“It can be a really rewarding job. But it is important to stress that the job can be consuming and we need people who are emotionally resilient.”