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Thinking about returning to social work? Places are available for the free ‘Return to Social Work’ programme

The West Midlands, London and East of England regions are running the Return to Social Work programme which will look to retrain social workers for free for both adults and children who are taking a break from or have left the profession.

To be eligible for selection, former social workers must be out of social work for less than five years.

Successful applicants will be provided with 12 weeks’ training to prepare them to re-register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and be ready to return to practice work from early 2018.

The programme aims to recruit 120 social workers in London, the East of England and the West Midlands initially, and places are still available. It takes 20 minutes to apply to the programme and the deadline for applications is 15 January.

To find out more and apply visit

The programme is run by the Local Government Association (LGA), in partnership with central government and with the support of the Government Equalities Office.

With social worker vacancy rates at their highest in four years, programmes like these are important to increasing the number of social workers in the sector.

Latest figures show there were 5,540 vacancies for child and family social workers in 2016, some 12.6 per cent of the workforce. Similarly, vacancy rates for adult social workers sat at 11 per cent in 2016.

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “This is an exciting time for social work as we launch our Return to Social Work programme and announce that the West Midlands, East of England and London will be the first regions to take part.

“It’s easier than people think to come back to social work. Social workers are extremely motivated by their passion for the profession and we hope that those who are contemplating returning take up this offer, as they can definitely make a difference for people.”

Return to Social Work provides hands-on work placements, specialist training, comprehensive coaching and mentoring, including dedicated interview preparation once applicants are registered and ready to re-enter social work – all completely free.