Q&A: Northumberland County Council on social care recruitment

Su Kaur, Principal Social Worker for Children and Families at Northumberland County Council explains the challenges that local authorities face in recruiting experienced social care staff and how they are working to address this issue. 

What challenges do local authorities face with recruiting and retaining social care staff? 

Recruitment and retention is a challenge for all Local Authority areas and is compounded in Northumberland by geography. Attracting experienced social workers is particularly difficult as skilled staff with a grounding in safeguarding work often seek out specialist or management opportunities which leaves in gap front line teams. The market for experienced staff is fiercely competitive and high calibre candidates can be discerning about where they work, and the pool of candidates shrinks. Although a very beautiful place to live, Northumberland could be perceived as a step too far North for people seeking to relocate. 

To see current vacancies in social care at Northumberland County Council, click here. 

Are there any misconceptions about working in social care?

Working in social care is tough and you need to have the necessary resilience and skills to do it well and enjoy it. The hard work can be incredibly rewarding and the sense of satisfaction which comes from supporting children and families to make improvements in their lives outweighs the stresses and challenges. The roles are varied, and it is important to be flexible and be prepared to face change and dilemmas with enthusiasm.

In Northumberland there may be a misconception that the roles involve excessive travel and mileage which in fact is not the case as most of the teams are locality based and the geographical areas covered by individual teams are limited.   

How are you addressing these issues in your social care workforce? 

In Northumberland we are considering a number of initiatives to support our recruitment and retention. We are building on our very successful academy model to integrate this with our student placement offer and a range of entry points into social work. Seeking to grow our own excellent practitioners we offer intensive support and nurturing for the first 12 months which then develops into a comprehensive and fully funded PQ offer. We are seeking to promote our vacancies for experienced staff using a range of social media platforms to expand our reach and attract people who may not have considered Northumberland as an employer. We have restructured the social work teams to offer small supervision groups with clear accountable lines of responsibility to ensure staff feel supported and safe in their practice. 

Why should experienced social workers come and work for you? –  

There are so many advantages to working in Northumberland – including tangible benefits such as car user allowance, free parking, lease car scheme, flexible working but also equally important softer ‘perks’ like development opportunities, strong supportive leadership, clear and well embedded practice model and the opportunity to live in a great part of the world. For more details, please see the further details contained within our job adverts.   


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top