Frontline social workers reluctant to move into management, leader warns | Social Care Network

Too few social workers feel they can step up to be future managers in the sector, one of the profession’s most senior leaders has warned.

Huge amounts of talent are being lost because many frontline staff do not feel they can have an impact at a higher level, said Ruth Allen, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth, Allen said it was important to support people to stay in the profession and to encourage them to become part of the pool of future leaders.

“We are losing too many social workers early in their career,” Allen told guests at a Guardian and BASW debate on leadership and management in social care.

“We really feel it is so important that we engage social workers at all levels, from students graduating all the way through,” she said. It was important “that they have the stepping stones and the support to turn motivation towards leading into actually being able to take up that role.”

Her comments echo the findings of this year’s Guardian Social Lives survey of social workers, which revealed that only 15% of the 1,400 respondents planned to move into management roles in the next five years.

Allen was joined on the panel at the debate by Stephen Chandler, director of adult social services at Somerset county council; Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC); and Mark Harvey, co-chair of the National Adult Principal Social Worker Network and principal social worker and head of adult disability services in Hertfordshire.

The newly published CQC State of Care report and this summer’s State of Adult Care report both identified that strong leadership is central to good services.

Good leaders, said Sutcliffe, “are outward looking, they are not narrowly focused on the job or their organisation and they are looking for what is best practice”. She added: “Good leaders we see also…

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