Employing social workers


This information relevant to commissioners, workforce development leads and employers in the local authority, private, voluntary and NHS sectors.

The employment of social workers in adult services takes place within a commissioning context which needs to address the current and future needs of the local population. Employers must account for this by planning how social workers in their organisations can be used best to enable them to meet their business objectives.

Skills for Care has resources which use generic workforce commissioning and planning models to support the effective deployment of social workers in adult social care services. They reflect the changing environment in which social work is being practiced and link to developments and innovations in the wider social care sector. 

Workforce commissioning describes processes used by the Directors of Adult Services (DASS) and their partners, to assess and predict the demand for the current and future work force mapped against supply and the needs of the local population.

Working in partnership with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) we have developed resources to support workforce commissioning across the whole of the adult social care workforce.

Additional information and guidance specific to commissioning the social work workforce is detailed in two advice notes and supporting resources. Together these provide a framework for considering the role of social workers and the delivery of social work services across local areas.

The seven stage model illustrated below, has useful resources which are embedded within each section and sign post to materials that support local decision making. Please click on the image below to access the model.

This model is currently being reviewed as part of an external consultation and a refreshed version will be released next year.


Increasing numbers of employers are recognising that – even where a social work qualification has not been specified as essential for the job role - the specialist skills, knowledge and experience that a social worker brings can increase the effectiveness of their business and enhance outcomes for people who need care and support. 

To maximise this potential employers must be systematic in identifying and planning ways in which their social work personnel can help to meet their business objectives.

They can build upon this by putting in place a framework for CPD that will draw together the requirements of the organisation with the individual and professional needs of the social worker.

We have developed resources to guide employers:

  • through a systematic process of workforce planning 
  • with embedding a social work specific framework for CPD
  • with measuring the impact of these interventions.

The National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) is recognised as the leading source of robust workforce intelligence for adult social care.

It can provide analysis of variables relating to the social work workforce that can be used by strategic planners to inform workforce commissioning. This information can also be used by employers to help them with their workforce planning.   

Information from NMDS-SC includes:

  • the variations in the numbers of social workers across adults’ services at local, regional and national levels
  • the demographics of the social work workforce e.g. age range, gender, job roles; rates of pay; sickness levels
  • turnover and vacancy rates plus the use of agency staff and non – British social workers

There are an increasing number of qualified social workers employed outside the local authority due to the implications of the personalisation and integration agendas and the on-going economic constraints facing local authorities.

The diversity of the roles and settings in which these social workers are employed has professional development implications for individuals, their employers and those responsible for commissioning services.

We have developed a range of approaches to support employers in the private, voluntary and NHS sectors to meet the development needs of their qualified social work staff.  

Funding is available to local Employer Transition Fund Partnerships to identify and engage with non-local authority employers about the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) and other social work development activity.

Within the ASYE section of the website there is funding information for employers to support the implementation of the ASYE for their newly qualified social workers. 

Click here for information from the national forum for employers of social workers in the independent sector.

We have produced three video case studies which focus on employing social workers in the independent sector. They feature a number of employers and social workers who currently work in the independent sector and highlight the work of social workers, support for newly qualified social workers and the benefits for organisations within the independent sector.

Click here to view the videos.



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