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Toolkit to ‘de-mystify’ social work sponsorship schemes

Today, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) launched the Grow Your Own (GYO) toolkit, a step by step guide to help students, employers and universities get the most out of GYO schemes. GYO schemes are used by local authorities and the voluntary and private sectors to support their employees, or potential employees, to qualify as social workers.

The GYO toolkit has been jointly produced by the GSCC, the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London (KCL) and overseen by a partnership of key stakeholders. For the first time it brings together the experience and knowledge of people who have run or participated in GYO schemes over many years.

GYO schemes can be used by employers to hire, train and keep social workers to tackle the recruitment and retention difficulties in the sector. By sponsoring students and supporting existing staff through their social work degree training, employers are more likely to retain staff who are reliable and committed to the organisation. This could include employees already working in non-qualified social care roles or graduates from different disciplines. Employers can also use the toolkit to solve recruitment problems in their locality, such as ensuring the next generation of social workers where there are a large percentage of staff approaching retirement.

For students, the toolkit sets out the benefits of being sponsored by an employer but also the responsibilities that come with this. For universities the toolkit provides advice on how to support students sponsored by employers. The three-way relationship between student, employer and university needs to be properly managed and the toolkit maps out the process.

Professor Jill Manthorpe, director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit said: “Sponsoring aspiring social workers is an investment for employers. However, with finances being tight, it’s important that such schemes are run effectively. This toolkit pulls together learning from the many similar schemes run over the past few decades, to ensure the best possible return on that investment – a highly skilled and effective social worker.

Grow Your Own schemes help people access qualifications through flexible routes. They also provide employers with opportunities to plan their workforces and meet their needs.”

The GSCC’s Chair, Rosie Varley, said: “We are delighted to launch the GYO toolkit. We hope this will provide practical advice to employers who are looking to solve recruitment needs through such schemes, which can result in highly competent and committed staff.

When there are shortages of social workers, employers need to take a long term approach to what can appear to be a short term issue. The beauty of grow your own schemes is that employers gain social workers who are not only highly skilled but have a deep understanding of the organisation and its local community.

There are many people out there who would make excellent social workers but have never previously considered it as a career. These schemes can help open up social work to a broader range of people with the right skills and ability to have an extremely positive impact on the lives on service users.”

Following the publication of the Sir Alan Langlands' Gateways to the Professions report in November 2005, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills commissioned the GSCC to oversee research into the effectiveness of GYO schemes. The research was carried out by King’s College London, working with the Open University. Its conclusions, published in December 2008, were that GYO schemes are valued by employers and students for recruiting social workers who can ‘hit the ground running’ and who have a level of understanding of the profession. The report recommended the production of a toolkit to capture best practice, and provide guidance and practical help to manage the GYO schemes.

 

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