Social workers have to keep their skills up to date as the landscape is constantly changing and social work as an industry is a complex business that is ever changing. Regulations keep changing, research alters approaches and even the weight of public opinion can change the way you have to work.
So how do you stay at the cutting edge of social work? Well, the ProfessionalCapabilities Framework will shape your path and lay down the expectations for each and every step of social care jobs you take on.
The PCF applies to all social workers and was brought in to ensure that everyone is working to an acceptable level, as well as creating a ladder of progression that would see the best workers rise through the ranks.
This framework then fits in the Health and Care Professions Council standards of proficiency and there is also an Early Development Programme. Like students in school, social workers are very closely monitored in the early days and there is a clear educational pathway. ContinuousProfessional Development is a core principle of the HCPC’s ongoing registration and while there are no set amount of dates, there are regular audits to ensure the social worker has undertaken enough CPD.
To stay on the cutting edge of social work best practice, you must undertake as much CPD as your local authority can support. It’s always a balancing act as there are basic duties, too, but with a supportive employer, a social worker can undertake a raft of additional learning and be a major asset to the local authority. It also eases career progression.
Work-based learning, as in on the job in situ training, is considered a part of your core development. Also professional activity, which can be as diverse as giving presentations at conferences through to mentoring junior staff members, all counts as well.
Even self-directed learning, as in hitting Google and finding out the local information, all counts towards your CPD as long as you can demonstrate its positive effect when it comes to your audit. This can be a powerful weapon for staying on top of your career path as so much information is available online and it’s your duty to make yourself aware of it.
Aside from that, formal education is the best way to stay at the absolute cutting edge of your field. That means doing distance learning courses, such as those offered by the OpenUniversity, which can often be partly or even fully funded by your authority.
It can also mean formal courses, arranged through your employer, which result in certification or accreditation, as well as planning and running your own courses later on when you have sufficient experience and knowledge.