On World Social Work Day 2015, Tuesday 17 March, the Scottish Government launched a new vision and strategy for Scotland’s social services.
The new vision is for a socially just Scotland with excellent social services delivered by a skilled and valued workforce which works with others to empower, support and protect people, with a focus on prevention, early intervention and enablement.
The vision and strategy was developed by a wide range of individuals and organisations, including the SSSC, involved in and committed to high quality, strong and effective social services in Scotland.
SSSC Chief Executive Anna Fowlie explains what the new vision and strategy means for the SSSC, social service workers and the people who use social services.
Can you tell us a bit about your role and how the strategy was developed?
I was a member of the Strategic Forum, chaired by the Minister for Children and Young People, and the lead for the workforce section of the strategy. Like the strategy as a whole, the workforce section was developed in consultation with a range of partners across the different parts of social services. It was a very consultative process and will continue to develop as it’s implemented.
Having a vital role in achieving the new vision by 2020, what challenges does the SSSC face?
I’m pleased that developing and supporting the workforce is central to the strategy. Of course, that isn’t all down to the SSSC! Employers, learning providers, workers themselves and their representative bodies all have a role in making sure we have skilled, confident people with sound values working in social services. It also means making sure we have workers that can deliver new types of services, with skills to meet future needs. We also need to make sure that people working in social work and social care are valued and that it is seen as a desirable career.
The SSSC is developing career pathways, a learning strategy and reviewing qualifications to ensure that there are as many options as possible to develop the workforce. We are also reviewing the Codes of Practice, particularly the Employers’ Codes, to make sure they continue to be fit for purpose.
It’s an exciting time for the SSSC and the Vision and Strategy provides an aspirational context for all of our work, whether on workforce regulation on or workforce development.
The outcome of the vision is to empower, support and protect the people who use social services. How will the SSSC deliver all the areas for action outlined in the strategy to accomplish this?
The actions in the strategy are a collective ask. There are some actions which we will take forward or lead, and others to which we will contribute. The vision (a socially just Scotland with excellent social services delivered by a skilled and valued workforce which works with others to empower, support and protect people, with a focus on prevention, early intervention and enablement) very much fits with our aims as an organisation. I believe that regulation is a tool for quality improvement – high quality workers deliver high quality care and support. Our Codes of Practice already fit with this ethos and we will review them to bring them up to date. We are involved in a wide range of workforce development and planning activities which will very much support the implementation of the Vision and Strategy. It is crucial for Scotland’s social services and those who provide them to deliver on this strategy and we are very much committed to being a key player in doing that.
63% of the whole of the Scottish social service workforce will be registered by 2020. What does this report mean for them and for the 37% of non-registered workers?
This means that the majority of our workers will be qualified to an appropriate level, and that there is a vehicle for redress if they fall short of the standards of behaviour required of them. That is very reassuring for the Scottish public and sets us apart from other parts of the UK. It also means that people working across social services will be recognised as skilled professionals. I hope that helps to make them more valued. There will always be people within the social service footprint who aren’t registered. They are nonetheless important players and we need to make sure they get access to learning and development opportunities too. We also need to make sure there are adequate public protection mechanisms in place to address the very small number who will abuse their positions with vulnerable people.
What are the key things you’d like to see happen as a result of the strategy?
I would like to see social services become the career of choice for young people, but also for more mature people looking to move into valuable and rewarding careers. I’d also like to see the people caring for our most vulnerable citizens recognised in terms of pay and working conditions and I’d like to make sure that employers give their workers the support and development opportunities they need to do the best possible job.