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If you ask any child what they would like to be when they grow up and alongside the usual answers of popstar, footb...
If you ask any child what they would like to be when they grow up and alongside the usual answers of popstar, footballer and astronaut, you will get a few doctors, nurses and teachers too. However, it is a safe bet that you will not hear many expressing a burning desire to be a social worker.

In many ways this is inevitable because of the invisible nature of social care - and so it should be.

Every day social workers and care staff do a tremendous job discreetly delivering services to those in need.

Most of us at some stage in our lives will call on these services. The existence of a good social care system is the hallmark of a civilised society. It is to the credit of the service it is largely unnoticed - it is not meant to be visible. Yet every now and then the peace and quiet is shattered by media clamour surrounding a major failure.

It may seem as though social workers are the cause of so many of society's problems. The truth is of course quite different. I have no doubt this perception is at the heart of the existing recruitment difficulties.

We have a dedicated, committed and professional workforce, but one that is constantly under valued, under appreciated and, yes, under-resourced. Recruitment problems are real. In turn the extra pressure and stress can lead to retention difficulties and the spiral becomes ever more challenging.

The£2m recruitment campaign announced last week by the government is very welcome. It is not as much as we hoped for, but it would be churlish to deride it.

It is a start. The next step is to ensure first-class human resource policies, as outlined in the Care to stay report published last week by the Local Government Association and the Employers' Organisation, are put in place. We need to make sure all of

this is successful and that we can attract and retain a high-calibre workforce. The services are too vital

to fail.

The most important message however, is to stress how much we value and appreciate the work our unsung heroes are doing day in and day out. Let us be quite clear this is a three-star service deserving of a three-star accreditation. Not just for some, but for all.

Kevin Wilson (lab)

Chair, Workforce taskgroup,

Local Government Association

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