Headlines: September 3rd, 2009

A local Government think tank is calling for a national college of social work. The Local Government Information Unit says such an institution would build the reputation of the profession as well as being an advocate for social workers.

The idea of the college was put forward by the LGiU chief executive Andy Sawford in response to the Government’s new television advertising campaign designed to recruit more than five thousand social workers. The ‘Help Give Them A Voice’ campaign features a number of celebrities to raise the profile of social work and has been created because of fears coverage of the death of the Baby P case is discouraging people from taking up careers in social work.

Mr. Sawford welcomed the campaign as a start of a process to put social work on a par with nursing, policing and other front line public sector professions. “Social workers have been the butt of jokes and the scapegoats for society’s failings for too long,” he said. He believed the campaign would help local authorities to recruit social workers by reminding people the profession was staffed by skilled, committed, and compassionate people.

While the launch of this re-branding was important, he said, it was only a small part of the solution. Further options could be fast-tracked training and golden hellos but re-branding had to be matched by reform. He added: “To retain social workers for the long-term, the service needs to be seen as a career for life, not a short-term stop-gap. We need a national college of social work, to continue to build the reputation of the sector and be a strong advocate for the decent, hard-working employees who are too often vilified, undermined and scape-goated in the media.”