Three quarters of social work graduates are still registered as social workers or newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) six years after graduating. That’s just one of the key findings from a new report we published today.

The Demand for Social Workers report examines data on the supply and demand for social workers in Scotland from a range of sources. Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • the number of people graduating from qualifying social work courses in Scotland has fallen for the past five years in a row (2013-2018)
  • within two years of graduation seven out of eight register with us as NQSWs
  • six years after graduation three quarters are still registered as NQSWs or social workers
  • there are 840 fewer social work registrants than there were five years ago
  • the headcount and whole time equivalent of local authority practising social workers rose by 32% between 2002/03 and 2009/10 to an all-time high
  • from 2009/10 to 2017/18 the growth was 2%
  • vacancy rates for practising social workers (5.7%) are not historically high but are nearly double the average for the Scottish economy (3.1%).
  • there is an increasingly large group (19%) of practising social workers who are aged over 55 and similar growth in those under 35.

Supporting social work

We are carrying out a range of work to support social work in Scotland which Phillip Gillespie, Director of Development and Innovation at the SSSC, said will support a sustainable and skilled workforce.

‘We’re leading and working with partners on various strands of work as part of the National Workforce Plan and the Review of Social Work Education that will make sure social work and social work education will continue to be of the highest standard.

‘This includes a Social Work Education Partnership with COSLA to deliver improvements in the consistency and quality of social work education, publishing revised Standards in Social Work Education in partnership with the higher education institutes, pilot sites for a supported and assessed first year in practice for NQSWs and a professional framework of practice for social work.

‘We’re also developing career pathways from social care to social work and promoting social service careers to encourage more people into the sector’.

We’ll publish a demand for social work report every year as part of our workforce planning function.

Read the Demand for Social Workers report here.