Training programmes for social workers are helping improve skills, understanding and confidence, but a high number of practitioners don’t finish them.
These are the main findings of an independent evaluation of the third year of the Continuing Professional Education and Learning (CPEL) framework carried out by Cordis Bright on behalf of Social Care Wales.
The CPEL framework aims to help social workers develop their skills and knowledge, and consists of four programmes aimed at different stages of social workers’ careers: newly-qualified; experienced practice; senior practice; and consultant social workers.
The evaluation found many positives, including social workers reporting improved understanding, skills and confidence levels, and managers praising its impact on the workforce.
Other strengths included the high quality of the programmes’ content and teaching, and the focus on research. The number of people joining the programmes remains high, too, with 868 social workers registered by August 2016.
However the evaluation found that while large numbers of social workers were completing some modules, they weren’t finishing the full programmes.
Around two-thirds of those registered on the experienced practice in social work programme left before completing it. While roughly a third of those on the senior practice and consultant social work programmes left early.
Many of those who withdrew from the programmes early cited heavy workloads and the style of teaching and learning as the reason.
Tackling the high level of withdrawals is an important area for all partners to address to make sure social workers continue to learn and develop the advanced practice skills they need. It’s a challenge for the profession and employers, and will be an important aspect of the review of the framework that’s taking place between now and April 2018.