In 2011/12 Estyn and CSSIW inspections identified the need for Pembrokeshire County Council to address problems in the retention and recruitment of social workers. Below, Anne Nicholson tells us how they’ve gone about doing just that.
We undertook a significant piece of research on recruitment and retention, workloads and support for social workers. We discovered from that research that we have a high number of social workers who appreciate living and working in Pembrokeshire and who want to continue to work for the Authority. This is of course a strength, however they reported that the benefits of living and working in the county did not counter the argument for the “going rate for the job” and the need for manageable caseloads. We had a high number of experienced practitioners with appropriate skills who were committed to working with children, young people and their families.
The safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny committee identified the recruitment and retention of social workers as a priority for Pembrokeshire made it a standing item on their agenda, receiving regular reports on progress with this work.
The Social Care Workforce planning project was selected as one of Pembrokeshire’s Outcome Agreements for 2013-2016. As well as being a priority for Pembrokeshire County Council, it demonstrated a clear link to the Wales Programme for Government’s Strategic Theme of Tackling Poverty. We believed that by providing an effective professional social care service with a sufficiently qualified and trained social care workforce, the outcomes for children, young people and families living in poverty would be improved. We set out to achieve this through:
- The development of a model for the recruitment and retention of social workers
- The development of effective mechanisms for referral to the Flying Start project for children & families to receive specialist support.
Together, the pay and grading review and the development of technologies to aid recruitment have proved successful in leading to improvements in this area. The market supplement and results of the Pay and Grading Review produced an increase in the ranking of starting and top of scale salaries in Pembrokeshire and have positioned Pembrokeshire more competitively. The number of vacant social worker posts reduced by 88%; the number of required agency staff reduced by 60% and the overall turnover rate has reduced.
We have reduced costs by moving away from the more traditional, and often more expensive, methods of advertising (which is part of our overall Social Work recruitment strategy) and successfully recruited candidates via new methods of advertising e.g. via YouTube, Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.
We now have a robust procedure for the employment of agency workers and there must be a vacancy in a team before they are employed.