Social workers to be flown in from Australia

PUBLISHED: 11:00 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 25 May 2010

SOCIAL workers could soon be flown in from Australia to help protect North Somerset youngsters.

SOCIAL workers could soon be flown in from Australia to help protect North Somerset youngsters.

Up to 10 new recruits could be in post by May as part of the unitary authority's mission to plug gaps in staff.

The social workers are being brought over from Down Under because North Somerset Council's recruitment campaign has failed to attract enough qualified candidates from closer to home.

The decision to press ahead with the plans is waiting to be signed off by the authority's executive members for children's services, Councillor Jeremy Blatchford and for human resources, Cllr Tony Lake.

If they give it the green light, the council will interview about 20 antipodean candidates.

The report says: "As with many local authorities we are experiencing difficulties in recruiting experienced childcare social workers.

"Despite a recruitment campaign over the past 12 months, this has only been effective in recruiting newly-qualified staff.

"Overseas recruitment will help secure skilled and experienced social workers and also reduce the use of agency staff."

The cost of recruiting from abroad has been calculated at about £5,000 per new employee.

North Somerset Council says once all agency social workers have ended their contacts, it will add up to large annual savings.

It also says it will save it advertising in some newspapers, at a cost of £9,000 per advert.

There is a national shortage of social workers who are experienced in child protection and there has been a significant increase in the number of vacancies since the Baby P abuse case was highlighted in 2008.

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