What is the difference between social work and social care?
Social workers have to have a degree in order to carry out their work, which involves taking charge of cases that need attention and co-ordinating a social care plan. Social care workers may be part of this plan, by providing personal care or counselling to social work clients, but they are not involved in making decisions about the level of care that is needed. Social care workers often have jobs in residential homes or in the homes of elderly people.
Who employs social workers?
If you are a recently qualified social worker looking for a job, then your prospective employers will be your local council. They will often have a website where all their vacancies are advertised. Some charitable organisations, such as the NSPCC, or those providing supported living will also employ social workers, but the majority of graduates work for councils.
I have a conviction for a minor criminal offence – can I still become a social worker?
You would need to discuss this is more detail with the General Social Care Council who are responsible for registering social workers and making sure they are suitable people to be trusted with vulnerable clients. You may have to provide a personal reference, testifying to your good character if there is a blemish on your record.
Are overseas social work qualifications recognised in the UK?
If you are from the EU, then the social work qualification from your home country will be recognised in the UK and you can work here as a social worker. If you qualified in another country, then the GSCC must make sure that the training you received is up to the standards of that provided in the UK before allowing you to work. This is called the equivalency procedure.
Will I need to work for a year as a probationary social worker?
Not necessarily. As part of your degree course, you are required to work for 200 days in a social work environment, but if you have achieved that figure while studying, then you can expect to start work straight away as a social worker. Sometimes, the GSCC might decide that someone needs to spend more time being supervised as a probationer before being given their own cases, but this is unlikely to be for a whole year.
What does a social worker get paid?
A newly qualified social worker working for a local authority could expect to receive a starting salary of around £20,000, with more for those working in London. Because social workers are usually employed by local authorities, they can expect all the usual benefits enjoyed by other council workers, such as paid leave and a pension scheme. If you wish to join a union, then UNISON is the organisation that represents the interests of local government employees.