Social work

Headline social worker statistics


This report provides the key findings from the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) relating to social workers in local authority adult social service departments as at September 2018. Data on the children’s social work workforce is published by the Department for Education.

There were 17,000 social workers employed by local authority adult social service departments across England as at September 2018, 1,000 in the independent sector and around 2,400 in the NHS. This report focuses on the 17,000 social workers employed by local authority adult social services departments.


Key findings

  • The number of social workers employed by local authorities in England increased by 4.7% from 16,200 to 17,000 between 2017 and 2018 – this figure had been stable at around 16,000 since 2011.
  • However, the total number of jobs in adult social services departments has decreased by 30% since 2011 (despite a 3% increase in 2018). Social worker jobs have generally been retained by local authorities during a period where many other jobs have been outsourced to the independent sector.
  • The turnover rate for social workers in local authorities was 13.8% in 2018. This figure has progressively decreased from 15.9% in 2016 and 15.2% in 2017.
  • The vacancy rate for social workers in local authorities was 8.3% in 2018, equivalent to around 1,400 vacant social worker posts. This figure has decreased year-on-year from 12.0% in 2015.
  • The average full-time equivalent salary for a local authority social worker was £34,100 in 2018. This was similar to occupational therapists (£34,100) and allied health professionals (£35,600).

 The report is available to download below.


Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) workforce 

AMHP thumbnail

Skills for Care has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and the AMHP Network to gain a better understanding of this key job role.

A dedicated AMHP survey was distributed to England’s 152 local authorities and achieved a 92% completion rate and we used NMDS-SC data to look at the characteristics of AMHPs.

Key findings 

  • There are an estimated 3,900 approved AMHPs in England.
  • 95% of AMHPs are social workers.
  • Two thirds of AMHPs combine their role with a substantive role e.g. social worker.
  • An estimated 30% of AMHPs are aged 55 or over.
  • Data from the NMDS-SC shows that while 21% of the social worker workforce are aged 55 or over, this rises to 30% (almost in 1 in 3) when we look at just AMHPs.
  • Overall 19% of social workers are male, this rises to 29% when only considering AMHPs
  • 77% of all social workers are white, this rises to 85% for AMHPs

Charts detailing each of these elements are contained within the report which you can download below. 


Social work education in England

Social Work Education report thumbnail

This report presents information on social work higher education in England, making use of data from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) to describe and discuss the current trends in social work education. The findings are based on data as at 2016/17.
Skills for Care estimates that around 74% of qualifying graduates were employed as social workers within six months of graduation. This equates to around 3,110 newly qualified social workers in employment. This conversion rate has consistently increases each year since 2011/12 when the rate was 56%.

Key findings

  • Around 4,440 students enrolled onto social work courses.
  • Postgraduate enrolments increased by 13%, following a 14% increase in 2015/16. This number had previously decreased each year between 2010/11 and 2014/15.
  • In 2016/17 undergraduate enrolments decreased by around 350 (12%) on the previous year. Undergraduate enrolments had remained at broadly the same level between 2012/13 and 2015/16 (at around 3,000 per year).
  • Around 93% of leavers from courses in 2016/17 graduated with a qualification.

The report is available to download below. 



Related reports

  • You can also find social worker statistics in the relevant regional report 
  • There is also data in the  'State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England' report below.
  • Looking for something specific on social workers? Contact us