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Social Work Professionals Wary of Management Roles
Guardian’s Social Lives research reveals social workers are reluctant to climb the career ladder
Image source: Pixabay
The most recent Guardian Social Lives Survey has unveiled a potential management crisis within social work as only one in six practitioners aspire to be managers. Of the 1,400 questioned, only 15% said that they planned to progress to a management role in the next five years.
An expert panel held an event to launch the findings of the survey and in doing so, detected the main reasons as to why there was such a decline in interest in management positions; fewer opportunities to work directly with service users, the impact of austerity and an apparent “blame culture” were amongst those highlighted.
Another issue addressed was the spending cuts introduced by government austerity measures, which were impacting on local authorities. Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers, Ruth Allen, said:
“People are seeing managers having to manage swingeing cuts in many areas. Although local authorities have been incredible in how they have managed to maintain services and innovate in very difficult circumstances, that management of dwindling resources to meet demand is going to look unattractive.”
Allen progressed to admit that her first management role was “the most difficult job I ever did”. This was compounded by Ian Thomas, strategic director of children and young people’s services at Rotherham council, revealing that among directors of children’s services, the churn rate stands at 35%. He explained that this was “…linked to the blame culture when things go wrong – it’s our heads that are often on the chopping block because you’re the head of the organisation”, suggesting that succession issues are felt at all levels of management across the sector.
Louise Grant, of the Frontline fast-track programme for children’s social workers detailed how their pilot of the Firstline leadership scheme was focusing on the first team manager level, explaining that:
“I think that’s where we have the potential to grow people and make people excited. We have a real opportunity to reframe what we mean by leadership and management in social work and to think about how people can become leaders in our organisations to improve the outcomes for children and families, for adults and for the staff that work around them. We need to think about a culture and climate where leadership can flourish”