Given the national difficulties Councils are facing with regards to the recruitment and retention of valuable social workers, what is Medway Council doing to help attract and support social workers as they carry out their crucial role in helping serve Medway children and families?
“Given the national difficulties Councils are facing with regards to the recruitment and retention of valuable social workers, what is Medway Council doing to help attract and support social workers as they carry out their crucial role in helping serve Medway children and families?”
Councillor Mackness thanked Ms Ryan for her question. He stated that Medway Council was taking great steps to recruit and retain social workers and truly valued the difficult role they undertook. The Council was committed to attracting top quality professionals who understood the sector and the challenges they faced but who also wanted to make a difference to the children and vulnerable families in Medway.
He stated that the Council had always prioritised social workers in terms of providing the resources to attract them to Medway but there was a particular focus at the moment and a campaign to both attract and retain permanent and locum workers.
Before the Council had embarked on the current programme, a pay review had been undertaken and the Council had rolled out, as recently as April, a new pay and grade structure, with improved pay scales and enhancements, market premia, car allowance and significant retention payments after 2 or 4 years’ service in the Local Authority.
He stated that the Council had used this significant incentive to run a campaign in market leading journals such as Community Care, Inform and The Guardian as well as various social media platforms such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook.
The Council would also be launching an upgraded microsite in May (www.medwaysocialcarejobs.co.uk), the strapline being ‘Promoting Practice’, for both the Children’s and Adults’ Service, as well promoting as the new Temp Agency, Ocelot People Solutions.
Ocelot People Solutions was another Medway initiative to recruit and retain locum workers as well as providing a solution to combatting the spiralling costs of agency staff, particularly across social care. So for those workers who enjoyed the benefits of locum work, they could still be attracted to work at Medway, but any profit gained would be returned to the Council as opposed to external organisations.
In terms of retention, as well as the enhanced pay scales, Medway’s social workers were supported with the Social Work Academy. This was a faculty led virtual academy where peers learned together, supported by mentors and senior managers.
The Council also had an extensive programme of quality training and a dedicated team of Organisational Development Officers to source leading trainers and industry experts.
He concluded by stating that, annually, the Council ran a programme to attract newly qualified social workers direct from University, which was just about to start again this year and they would be supported for the full year under the Newly Qualified Social Worker programme. Again, this involved mentoring by Social Work Managers, enhanced training courses and during that year they would have reduced caseloads whilst they built their experience. It was hoped by offering this immediate entry into the organisation this would encourage loyalty and a sense of belonging.