US social worker recruits save money, says Swansea Council

RECRUITING social workers from abroad will cost Swansea Council up to £6,600 a time. The Post revealed last week how the authority was sending three staff to America to interview candidates due to a shortage of skilled social workers in the UK.

The cost of the Chicago trip, including accommodation, will be paid by a US-based recruitment agency called UK Pro, which the council said has a good track record in finding qualified candidates.

Asked how much the finders’ fee was, a council spokeswoman said: “If successful in recruiting overseas staff, the council will pay a recruitment company between 16 and 20 per cent of the first-year salary.”

This works out between £4,200 to £6,600 for each vacancy filled. It does not include a relocation fee, but the council pointed out that relocation fees also apply to UK candidates who move more than 40 miles to Swansea, if certain criteria are met.

The spokeswoman added: “Recruiting permanent staff from overseas in the longer term is less expensive than employing UK-based agency staff, which includes an additional levy to the council.

“The costs incurred for employing agency staff is up to 50 per cent more than recruiting social workers from overseas.”

The council is aiming to recruit 40 social workers for its hard-pressed child and family services department. Some of these posts are likely to be filled by candidates from the UK and Germany, as well as the States.

Councillor Nick Tregoning, cabinet member for social services, said it was vital to get skilled social workers in place as quickly as possible.

The number of looked-after children in Swansea has risen nearly 40 per cent in the past year to 522, with 225 on the Child Protection Register — a rise of nearly 50 per cent — mainly due to increased awareness in the wake of the Baby P tragedy.

Councillor Tregoning said: “People feel under pressure, I don’t deny that, but they are eager to get on with the job. I don’t get the sense that people are wishing to bail out. They can see something is being done.”