Social workers search is global

Angela Macpherson
Angela Macpherson

Social workers from America, Australia and the EU could be shipped in to help plug the gap at Bucks social services.

A scheme to poach foreign workers is being discussed after the council’s children’s services department was found to be inadequate by Ofsted.

Council chiefs say that much of the problem is the shortage of qualified social workers, who can earn more money in other authorities and may be put off by increasing caseloads.

The council has also invested in Frontline, an on the job graduate scheme which helps candidates get the skills they need to take on full time social work positions.

Other factors, including the influx of referrals as a result of publicity surrounding the Jimmy Savile scandal are also said to have affected the authority.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Angela Macpherson, said, “We are facing a shortage of qualified and experienced social workers nationally. This is often more acute in higher cost areas like Buckinghamshire. To help address the issue, we are moving forward with a range of initiatives to recruit and retain social workers.

“Firstly we have been investing in Frontline which supports high calibre graduates to develop knowledge and skills quickly. Secondly, we have a continuous recruitment programme and we are attracting social work candidates from across the South East and the rest of the country to take up roles in Buckinghamshire.

“The initiative to recruit from abroad has worked for a number of authorities and we have recruited from abroad in the past. We are currently considering options including North America, Australia and elsewhere including workers from within the EU where many countries’ legislation is similar to that in England. If we recruit from non-English speaking countries we would ensure that the workers have a high standard of spoken and written English and that we will offer support to them to integrate and develop as long term workers for Bucks.”