Training programme to last just one year

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WIGAN Council is enthusiastically backing plans to bring graduates into social work through a new fast-track training programme.

The local authority says it is keen to be involved with Frontline, which will bring university-educated young people into social work with a five-week intensive training scheme, followed by two years of training on the job with a local authority and additional university study.

A pilot scheme will see 100 trainees enrol next September, with Manchester and London receiving the first graduates on to the programme.

Although concerns have been raised about whether the graduates, who may have to manage caseloads after just a few weeks of summer school training, will be experienced enough to handle complex issues, Wigan Council says the scheme should be applauded for encouraging intelligent young people to choose social work as a career.

Anne Goldsmith, director for children and families, said: “We’ve been in discussions for several months about supporting this plan. Attracting talented graduates into social work would be an investment for the future and something we would fully support.

“However, being a social worker is a demanding role requiring not just academic achievement but qualities such as empathy and emotional strength.

“This will be a challenging process, but recruits will be helping to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people and their families. The scheme should also allow us to develop the senior social workers of the future.

“Social workers perform a vital function in society. It is right we find new ways to encourage the brightest and the best to join the profession.”

Students training through Frontline will qualify as social workers after a year and will be paid on the job. Further leadership training and post-graduate opportunities have also been announced.

The new training scheme has been devised following high-profile cases where social workers failed to spot signs of serious abuse. Improving the status and standing of social work as a profession has also been a priority for several governments.