Councils should learn lessons from the NHS to improve recruitment and retention of social workers, the chair of the government’s social work task force said.

Moira Gibb said that her panel, which is due to report to government in October, recognised that there were stark differences between the way the NHS invested in its future professionals and how councils behaved.

She said: “Think about medicine. A great part of the NHS is focused on delivering the future generation of doctors, but I don’t think that in local government there’s a focus on delivering the future generation of social workers.”

Local Government Chronicle reported that Ms Gibb also told the Local Government Association annual conference that there had been a breakdown between local authorities and the education sector in recent years that was close to the heart of the recruitment and retention problems the sector faces.

Ms Gibb said councils seemed to take little direct interest in training future social workers and expected external bodies to do the work for them - creating a gap between what was needed and what educators provided.

“The expectations are different. Employers are expecting social workers ready to practice and educators are training people for a different world than the one they are about to enter.”

Ms Gibb, who is also chief executive of Camden council, said the Baby P tragedy had not been the start of the sector’s problems, but it had not helped.

From Local Government Chronicle.