Social worker vacancies are reduced

SUFFOLK is poised to reduce social worker vacancies, with new recruits from overseas and closer to home. Three social workers from Zimbabwe have started work, due to soon be followed by several from Romania.

SUFFOLK is poised to reduce social worker vacancies, with new recruits from overseas and closer to home.

Three social workers from Zimbabwe have started work, due to soon be followed by several from Romania.

The recruitment is a response to the national shortage of social workers, and mirrors the way nurses from the Middle East have been recruited to work at Ipswich Hospital.

The Star told of the pressure on short-staffed social workers last October and this January, but we revealed yesterday that 18 members of council staff have just passed their diploma to qualify for social work, in a unique national pilot programme.

Trade Union UNISON contributed to the course, which was managed by Ruskin College, Oxford with Suffolk's social care trainers.

Helen Hepburn, training and development officer for Suffolk social care, described the news as "a fantastic achievement."

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It is hoped that other councils in England will follow the model and more staff from Suffolk are already starting the course.

David Rowe, member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee and portfolio holder for external relations, presented the diplomas at a ceremony in London.

At the event he said: "I am pleased to hear about the excellent results obtained by the staff in Suffolk Social Care department, and I congratulate them.

"The course is now an agreed part of the council's recruitment and retention policy. I would like to thank our partners, UNISON and Ruskin College, for this successful collaboration."

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