APSCo calls for more collaboration for the sake of the community being served
In a response to the Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation on child and family social worker workforce, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has called for greater collaboration across the supply chain for the good of the community.
In its consultation submission, APSCo has urged the DfE to focus on four key elements of child and family social worker resource management:
- Extending the focus beyond just recruitment spend on agency workers and looking at ways to assist with the retention of substantive staff.
- Recognising the importance of a regional approach and working within existing structures.
- Working with local authorities, framework providers and the recruitment supply chain to develop a more collaborative contract management programme and even-handed terms, with the prime goal to work for the good of the community being served.
- Controlling project work, rather than banning it altogether.
The trade association for the professional staffing sector has also called on the DfE to confirm if it intends to legislate the national rules under review or if these will only act as guidance, and has argued that the planned rollout date for the national rules of Spring 2024 is too soon.
Shazia Imtiaz, General Counsel at APSCo and part of the trade association’s Social Worker Compliance + Committee comments:
“While we absolutely agree that there are resourcing issues that need to be addressed in the child and family social work sector, there are a number of suggestions in the consultation which we believe either won’t have the desired impact or will unintentionally exacerbate skills shortages. The consultation largely focuses on agency use, rather than the issue of staff retention which our members have flagged as the biggest issue to creating a sustainable workforce in the sector.
“As resourcing challenges grow, we are seeing agency worker spend replaced by project work spend which, as the consultation suggests, needs to be controlled. Although better policing of project teams is needed, we don’t believe a full ban on projects will be helpful, particularly for local authorities looking to either fill a backlog of cases or manage a failed Ofsted inspection.
“The planned hiring prohibition periods and minimum six-week notice period for agency social workers could, unfortunately, result in many choosing to exit the sector altogether if they do not see improvements to their pay or working conditions in a permanent role and are unable to move agency side. There’s also limited recognition of the regional nuances in pay which is further limiting the available talent pools.
“Unfortunately, the national rules outlined have been influenced by the suggestion that a reliance on recruiters is the root cause of the skills shortages when it is, in fact, an effect of the retention problem. There is a need for both consistency across local authorities and frameworks, and the ability to flex the rules to suit regional nuances and respond to macroeconomic influencers.
“APSCo strongly feels that collaboration between local authorities, managed service providers (MSPs) and the recruitment supply chain is needed to ensure national guidelines don’t unfairly push workers out of the sector or disadvantage any business in the supply chain. As they are currently written, the guidelines do not encourage this.”
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The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) is the trade association for the professional recruitment market. APSCo Global comprises APSCo Asia, APSCo Australia, APSCo Deutschland and APSCo United Kingdom as well as APSCo OutSource, the trade body for the RPO and MSP sectors.
Find out more: www.apsco.org
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