Latest figures show the number of people applying for places on social work courses has gone up by 8 percent in the last year. The provisional statistics are from the Social Work Admissions System, which handles six out of ten applications.The figures are seen as the most accurate indicator of the number of people wanting to enter the profession. They show an increase from 4,680 applicants last year to 5,070 in 2,002. The other 40 percent of applications are made directly to colleges or through other channels.
News of the increase coincides with the launch of the latest phase in a three-year recruitment campaign which will include national and regional advertising and a social work careers hotline. A special website has been designed to detail the facts about working in the field and to dispel some of the myths after research showed a major obstacle to recruitment was a lack of understanding of the profession.
Social Services Minister, Jacqui Smith, has welcomed the latest figures and said the recruitment campaign would help to attract even more people. “Social work is hard work and exceptionally rewarding. Social workers regularly make complex and life saving decisions, the outcome of which can make a real difference to people’s lives, ” she said.
The recruitment campaign will highlight the new three-year social work degree course which will begin in universities and colleges across the country from October next year. It will eventually replace the current diploma in social work. At the same time a number of local activities are being planned in support of the campaign. They include ‘job shadows’ where people from the commercial sector can gain understanding of the work done by social care professionals. Research shows that almost one in four of the calls to the careers hotline during the Spring of this year was from someone working in banking, business or IT.