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Scotland sees rise in social workers

Social work numbers in Scotland increased by 3% last year, according to Scottish Government statistics published late last month.

There were 5,235 full time or equivalent qualified social workers in 2009, compared to 5,072 the previous year, official statistics show. This increase of more than 160 practitioners indicates that vacancy levels north of the border are falling, a trend confirmed by figures indicating that there are 35% more social workers in Scotland compared to 10 years ago.

Minister for Children and Early Years Adam Ingram said: “Social work services provide vital support to some of our most vulnerable people. That is why I am delighted that today’s figures show a record number of social workers working on the frontline and that vacancies are continuing to fall.

“This demonstrates that improved training and a focus on promoting the rewards of a career in social work are paying dividends,” he added.

However Mr Ingram warned that the Scottish government must continue to work with the social work sector to ensure the right people with the right skills are atracted to the profession and retained within the sector in order to provide the best care for vulnerable people in Scotland.

The statistics show that the estimated vacancy rate for social workers is 5.8% compared to last year’s rate of 7%. The rate in 2003 was 12.8%, demonstrating that levels of vacancies are dropping considerably.