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Monday, 09 August 2004

Development of the Scottish Social Service Workforce

Written by Robert Brown MSP
National Strategy for the Development of the Social Service Workforce is launched

Deputy Education Minister Robert Brown spoke to Care Appointments about the National Strategy for the Development of the Social Service Workforce

Our vision for Scotland’s social service workforce is an ambitious one.

People in Scotland want a workforce that can respond to changing needs and make a lasting difference to their lives. Carers and people who use services need to know that the social service workforce have the skills and knowledge to respond to their needs and deliver the services they want and deserve.

In launching the strategy the Scottish Executive has committed almost £17 million a significant investment demonstrating our commitment to make the vision in the strategy happen. The National Strategy for the Development of the Social Service Workforce may never be a top ten bestseller, but it is a practical working document which will help create a confident, highly skilled service fit for the 21st century.

The strategy is for everyone with an interest in the social service sector. We all have a responsibility to ensure that we have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. It provides support for those involved in delivering services as well as some solutions to the challenges facing the whole workforce.{mospagebreak}

The strategy sets out what is already happening, as well as what needs to be done, if we are to achieve a confident and valued workforce. We need a sector which prides itself on embracing lifelong learning for life changing work. This might seem a trite statement – it’s not! Investing in training and development must be central to how we plan and deliver services. To succeed, the strategy depends on everyone playing their part.

Social services operate in a rapidly changing environment – and need highly flexible and adaptable workers. Services are increasingly joined up with health, housing, education, police and others. We also need to consider how we train and develop the workforce. Increasing opportunities for joint training will make sure that those who deliver services understand their role and what the contribution of others to ensuring we deliver effective, integrated services.

People must have the chance to decide how to progress in their careers, gain recognition for their skills and learn in more flexible ways. It is a continuous challenge to attract, retain and develop quality staff, but people choose to work in this sector because they know they are doing a valuable job.

It’s essential that training and development are part of service planning and that we make the best use of existing resources. The strategy’s message is obvious –we need a clear vision, realism about the challenges, and support staff to deliver results for service users and carers. Staff should share this goal, contribute to their development and feel valued and supported.{mospagebreak}

Scotland’s social service sector already has much to be proud of. The dedicated workforce does vital work, often in challenging circumstances, to support and protect vulnerable people. Their role cannot be underestimated and should not be undervalued, but 21st century challenges mean we must ensure the workforce is fully able to give of its best and be equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding it needs to deliver what is expected of it.

With the strategy, we are pointing the way forward, outlining what needs to be done and backing that up with extra resources. We will work together to ensure our social service sector is fit for the 21st century. The Executive is currently examining how to raise awareness of the strategy and its implementation and information on this will be available early next year. Copies of the strategy have been distributed to councils and voluntary organisations – but it’s also available at the Scottish Executive on-line at www.scotland.gov.uk, the SSSC website www.sssc.uk.com/Homepage.htm and the Care Commission website www.carecommission.com

For further information contact Sheena Brown, Policy Manager, Scottish Executive 0131 244 0798.