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Fall in social work courses

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There has been a fall of 16% in the number of social work degree courses run across England, despite a national shortage of social workers, according to the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

The council is calling for a package of measures to deal with the problem, including a ‘model’ of workforce supply and demand to help ensure that each region’s need for social workers was met.

Last month Unison said 60% of its children’s services social workers had reported that one in five posts at their departments were vacant, while the Conservative Party said that some councils were operating with just two-thirds of the social workers they needed.

According to GSCC statistics, 38 social work degree courses out of a total of 237 are not running this year.

In its Raising Standards report, the GSCC said that while the degree, which was launched seven years ago, had increased the supply of staff into the profession, the apparent decrease in demand for some courses could exacerbate shortages.

Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, said that more degree courses would not make newly qualified social workers want jobs in departments with bad reputations.

“This isn’t about the lack of training courses, it’s about the characteristics of organisations and having a good culture will recruit staff,” he said.

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