Career progression in the social work industry allows people to have the opportunity to help and support even more people. Although progression can come with a slight salary increase, there is not normally a huge salary range for social workers in the UK. An entry level salary is around £24,000 per year, with the most experienced social workers earning about £40,000. Those who are on £40,000 per year normally have a management responsibility.
At present, career progression opportunities are harder to come by, because budget cuts across the UK have led to a lot of mid-level posts being frozen. It is therefore important that you start preparing early if you want to move up the career ladder. If you are hoping to move up the career ladder, you should consider the following advice.
Understanding the Professional Capabilities Framework
The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) is a framework which has been created by the Social Work Reform Board to set out consistent expectations of the capabilities of social workers at each stage of their career. This helps to ensure that social workers across the UK continue to meet the same standards, regardless of where they are based. It also provides a structure around which social workers can plan their professional development. Understanding the PCF will help you to understand what you need to be able to achieve in order to progress to the next level. You can take Continuing Professional Development steps to build your skills in any areas where they are lacking.
Continuing Professional Development
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) allows employees to build on their skills, knowledge and experience whilst in the workplace. Most workplaces have their own CPD program which enables employees to access training opportunities through the organisation. This helps staff members to bring new skills and experiences to the office. If your workplace does not have its own CPD programme, then it is possible to access a range of training opportunities through the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). BASW runs courses, seminars and discussion groups to help to share best practice throughout the social work sector in the UK. When a career progression opportunity does come up, you will be able to use your new skills and experiences to support your application.
If possible, join a mentoring scheme in your local area. These schemes match junior social workers with veteran social workers so that they can share knowledge, skills and experiences with one another. These arrangements are really beneficial for both parties, because the veteran social workers get the chance to hear lots of fresh ideas and experiences which they may not have considered otherwise. A veteran social worker also gains experience of mentoring, which may prove to be very useful for their own career progression.
Although some organisations offer an in-house mentoring programme, it may be better to try to gain access to a mentoring scheme which matches up social workers from external organisations, because this will give you the opportunity to share best practice amongst different groups. Later on in your career, you should also strive to become a mentor in one of these schemes, because this is a brilliant thing to put on your CV.
Seek Out Additional Opportunities
Seek out additional opportunities and responsibilities as part of your existing role. If you have any ideas about how to improve the existing system, try making these suggestions to your line managers. Give evidence about how you could implement your ideas or what the benefits could be. Even if your line manager does not want you to implement these ideas (for whatever reason); they will then be more likely to think of you for any projects which need to be completed in the future. Eagerness and enthusiasm is normally rewarded in the workplace. Showing that you can take on extra responsibilities will support your progression up the career ladder.
Expand your Network
In addition to mentoring programmes, you should try to build your network in other ways. This can help you to raise your profile in your workplace and in the wider social worker community. If more people know about you, then they will be more likely to consider you for new opportunities and projects which they may be working on. Opportunities to expand your network in the office might include; joining the staff social committee, assisting with steering groups and completing in-house training courses. All of these things will enable you to meet new people that you may not normally have the opportunity to meet. You can expand your network outside of your current workplace by joining a b-2-b social network like LinkedIn. Try to connect with the people that you meet at external training and seminars that you attend.