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Professionalism in social work.

September 11, 2009

Much talk from government, in the media and from various Quangos about how to raise the status of social work, how to recruit and especially to retain able social workers.

The greatest barrier to achieving those objectives is that in the UK most social workers are employed in organisations whose structure are incompatible with professionalism. The tight, multi-layered hierarchical structures of local authority bureaucracies mean that any social worker seeking higher status (and salary) within these bureaucracies has to move into management. The result is that practice becomes the realm of the least experienced and the managers, who also act as professional supervisors, become increasingly out of touch with practice as they struggle up the promotional greasy pole.

Structures more compatible with professional practice, perhaps similar to GP practices where the doctors employ the manager or barrister’s chambers where the practitioners employ their clerk, are suggested from time to time but nothing ever seems to come of these proposals.

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