Graduates in England are set to receive at least £15,000 if they retrain as children’s social workers under a new government proposal.
The scheme, due to start in September, is called ‘Step Up to Social Work’, and has been developed by the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) in an attempt to attract high achievers into the profession.
The scheme will pay candidates to study for a Masters, but is only accessible to graduates who have achieved at least a 2:1 and have experience working with children.
Education Officer Holly Taylor said: “Social work is a notoriously hard profession and it doesn’t surprise me that financial incentives are being used to recruit.
“It is worrying that students, who have accumulated a lot of debt by the time they graduate, may be tempted by such large figures.
“People should think very carefully about entering any profession, especially if one of the reasons they are considering it is the golden handshake at the start.”
The scheme is partly a response to a recent number of high-profile social work failings, including the Baby P case in 2007.
Keith Brumfit, the CWDC’s Director of Strategy, said: “This new scheme is a really positive step in ensuring that we attract the absolute best people to pursue a career in social work.
“We want to remove potential barriers which may prevent skilled professionals from seeking to train as a social worker.”
But there are mixed feelings among students about the new scheme.
Laura Roach, a student at the University, said: “The money incentive seems more like bribery than anything else.
“Persuading students to enter social work by using a large sum of money actually creates a situation where staff end up in the career for all the wrong reasons.”
Liz Faire, a social work student at Sheffield Hallam, said: “It’s completely unfair to the people who have actually gone straight into social work and dedicated their entire degree to the profession.
“I would feel I had wasted three years doing an actual social work degree if I’d have known I could have simply got a degree in something else, then been paid to convert to social work.”