Well its that time already, the 100 days placement has passed and the social work student I had in placement with our team has finished. It was a sad for the team, and for me! I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge and seeing the development. I have also enjoyed being challenged (in a positive way) about some of my decision making from a learning perspective. It has certainly helped having a competent student on placement with us and I have wondered over the past few months how I would have been able to support a more inexperienced student. The reality is with the work load pressure, and increasing monitoring checks and high risk meetings and other social work tasks, I could not have given any more time.
I would like to say well done to all students who have just completed their course or will be soon. It is not an easy subject to study. No right or wrong answers, just the obvious if you miss the point you wont do well. This does reflect true life when working with families. If you do not get to the right dilemma, issue then every thing you do after that first visit is a waste of time.
For many social work students and even qualified staff the current issue is finding work. Work is out there with many teams still holding agency social workers. However, experience is still preferred and essential when carrying out complex assessments and managing your case load. Support is needed to ensure that Newly Qualified workers can find work and work in relevant social work teams.
But as a student what can you do to get experience? working with the client group you are interested in helps, voluntary work, agency work such as residential work, supervised contact is always good and trying to find unqualified posts are also a good way to gain experience. All of which needs to sold on your application form and linked to the criteria that is being asked for in the application form.
The other challenge is the interview once you have an interview don’t rely on your charm and smile alone. Please research the field you are applying for. Understand the legislation and how it affects practise, keep up to date with current issues affecting the area you want to work.
As social work continues to go through changes, viscous cut backs, and attacks from the media as mistakes are highlighted causing further tension and strain. Social Workers are left taking the strain and pressure of increased demand and lack of time to spend with each individual person. So support is needed, real understanding is needed from the government and passed to each Local Authority to provide trust and confidence to allow for development within social work both for newly qualified social workers and also experienced staff to ensure that social work practise does not become complacent.
So I wish my student good luck and hope she enjoys the challenges social work brings, I look forward to working with you again as a colleague.