Developing the Social Services Workforce: Retention, Recruitment, Skills

This event will help you understand the challenges facing the social services workforce and explore how it can be nurtured and grown by sharing the latest in research and practice.

The context

The social services sector in Scotland employs around 200,000 people in a range of settings. It is going through a time of change. Integration of Health and Social Care, Self-directed Support, the expansion of early learning and childcare and other policy and practice developments all mean that practitioners need a wide range of skills to deal with the challenges ahead. Developing and maintaining those skills is essential for all in the sector.

The Scottish Social Service Council’s (SSSC) Workforce Skills Report 2016-2017 set out the challenges and skills issues facing the workforce and outlines some of the initiatives to tackle these issues. 

The event

This event will draw together evidence and case studies exploring some of the challenges ahead and skills gaps identified by the SSSC Workforce Skills Report and illustrate how managers and frontline workers can face these challenges as the workforce evolves.

Key issues to be addressed

  • The challenges facing social services and the skills we need to develop to support the workforce to meet these challenges
  • How supporting staff to manage the emotional toll of working with vulnerable groups can improve retention
  • Statistics show that 85% of the workforce is female: how can we attract more men into social work?
  • Enhancing the skills of the workforce


09:15 Registration opens

10:00 Opening remarks from the chair

Morag Alexander OBE: Chair, ELCAP; Co-Chair, Scottish Commission on Older Women; Former Convener, SSSC; Former Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission; Former Director, Equal Opportunities Commission

Session 1: The Shape of the Workforce

In this opening session we will look at the characteristics of the social services workforce and consider the recruitment and retention challenges it faces. As we do so we will ask: how we can develop a more diverse workforce by attracting more men into care?

10.05 The Shape of the Workforce: SSSC's Workforce Skills Report

  • National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan and its role in planning for the future
  • Challenges facing social services workforce
  • Importance of skills agenda and professional roles  – as health and social care integration is embedded 

Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Advisor, Scottish Government

10:25 The shape of the workforce: SSSC’s Workforce Skills Report

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive, Scottish Social Services Council

10:45 Recruitment and Retention in the Voluntary Sector

  • Annual Benchmarking Report
  • Impact of recruitment and retention challenges
  • Voluntary sector providers’ initiatives

Alison Christie, Policy and Development Officer (Workforce), CCPS - Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland 

Michelle Nairn, Head of Corporate Services, Includem and Workforce Associate, CCPS 

11:05 Questions and discussion

11:20 Refreshments

Session 2: Building Leadership Capacity

In this time of change effective leadership is essential for ensuring that today’s workforce is ready for tomorrow. This session will explore what good leadership looks like in a social services setting and look at just a few of the initiatives helping to build leadership capacity.

11:35 What does good leadership in social services look like?

Lorna Dalton, Learning and Development Adviser, Scottish Social Services Council 

11:55 Leadership for integration

Julie Higgins, Specialist Lead, NHS Education Scotland

Susan Nevill, Learning and Development Advisor, SSSC

12:15 Leadership and wellbeing 

Karen Hedge, National Director, Scottish Care 

12:35 Questions and discussions

12:50 Lunch

Session 3: Enhancing Workforce Skills

In this final session we will look at research and practical examples around social services workforce enhancement. We will finish with an exploration of the important skill of self-reflection, recognising the barriers that can make it difficult for staff to find space to review their decision-making, the importance of good supervision for enabling reflection and why it continues to be an essential part of care.

13:30 Transforming Conflict, Nurturing Relationships

Diane Marr, Network Development Manager, Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution

13:50 Transformational change in workforce recruitment and retention

Jan Savage, Executive Director of External Affairs and Strategic Development, Enable Scotland

14:10 Attracting Men into Social Work

David Galley, Lecturer in Social Work & Social Work Admissions Tutor, Solent University

14:30 Self-reflection in practice

Trisha Hall, Manager, Scottish Association of Social Workers

14:50 Questions and discussions

15:05 Closing remarks from the chair

15:10 Close

*Agenda subject to change


COSLA, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH | Map


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635

29 March 2018



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