Inspiring Confidence In The Social Services Workforce

The SSSC report on the sector’s commitment to post-registration training and learning and continuing professional development…

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for promoting and developing education and training for the social services workforce in Scotland. It is also responsible for regulating and awarding professional social work qualifications and registering social service workers.

The vision of the SSSC is of a competent, confident workforce capable of delivering services in a changing environment and committed to developing a culture of learning. A well trained and motivated workforce is crucial to delivering quality services to meet the expectations of people who use and rely on social services.

Carole Wilkinson, Chief Executive of the SSSC also believes it is fundamental to social service workers being recognised as qualified professionals: “A social service workforce that is appropriately qualified and supports continuous professional development underlines the fact that social service workers are skilled professionals.  This in turn helps to inspire confidence in those that use and rely on social services.”

Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL) requirements and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are two distinct methods of supporting ongoing learning throughout the workforce. 

The SSSC supports and encourages CPD for the whole of the Scottish social service workforce whereas PRTL is a specific requirement for all groups of workers that currently register with the SSSC and a record of any PRTL must be maintained.  

The main purpose of PRTL is to ensure a worker’s continued suitability for registration.  This can be done in a variety of ways including study, training, courses, seminars, teaching or other activities which could reasonably be expected to advance a worker’s professional development.

A key factor of both CPD and PRTL is the role of the employer who is expected to support and enable their staff to develop and maintain their knowledge and skills.  Employers of registrants are expected under the SSSC’s Code of Practice for Employers to assist registered workers to continue their professional development.

More about CPD

The focus is on the continuing professional development of the individual, taking account of the employee learning needs, employer expectations, career plans and local and national policy priorities.

CPD encompasses a wide range of activities which contribute to the lifelong learning of all social service workers. It includes academic and practice development and, equally importantly, informal learning and learning and development in the workplace and any development which contributes directly to improving the quality of care received by service users.

Continuing professional development for the social service workforce includes:

  • qualifications required for registration
  • PRTL requirements necessary to maintain registration status
  • formal learning, normally leading to a recognised award within the SCQF
  • informal and work-based learning, often provided by or supported by employers, such as induction and in-house courses, job shadowing and secondment
  • experiential learning, which takes place through life and work experiences, and is often, but not always, unintentional learning.

The aim is to improve the quality and relevance of learning, linking opportunities more closely to the needs of employers while taking account of individuals needs at different stages in their working lives. It is essential that investment in learning and development has a direct and positive impact on the quality of services provided by agencies.

More about PRTL

The Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL) requirements are set down by the SSSC’s (Registration) Rules. These state the training and learning requirements that all registered workers must meet in order to ensure their continued suitability for registration.  

This is particularly important for social workers in Scotland who must be registered with the SSSC to work as a social worker, due to ‘protection of title’ and whose registration can only be maintained by meeting the requirements of registration including carrying out the PRTL.  

On 5 June 2006 amendments to the SSSC’s Registration Rules were approved and revised Post Registration Training and Learning (PRTL) requirements were introduced for registered social workers. From that date social workers who are registered for the first time or whose registration is renewed by the SSSC will be subject to the revised PRTL requirements.  

The revised PRTL requires newly qualified social workers to focus at least 5 days (30 hours) of their training and learning activity on working effectively with colleagues and other professionals to identify, assess and manage risk to vulnerable groups. This is in order to ensure that they are assisted to meet their primary responsibility of protecting children and adults from harm.

In general PRTL can be met through:  

  • study
  • training
  • courses
  • seminars
  • reading
  • teaching, or
  • other activities which could reasonably be expected to advance a registrants professional development or contribute to the development of the profession as a whole.

The type of activity stated as acceptable is deliberately general because it is recognised that there is a variety of ways for registered workers to continue to learn and develop, that does not have to be formally certified. However, workers undertaking formal certificated post qualifying awards and/or further or higher education awards in subjects relevant to their practice can cite these studies as evidence of meeting PRTL requirements.

Further Information

The Scottish Executive has launched a Child Protection webspace to support workers undertaking child protection work in Scotland. The webspace will provide access to training materials and information about training events. It will also provide access to a ‘community’ site that will enable workers to collaborate on topics related to child protection in Scotland. The resource aims to assist registered social workers to meet their PRTL requirements and you can register free to join the membership of the webspace at

The Scottish Executive is also working with the Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education to extend access to the Learning Exchange to all local authority social work departments in Scotland. The Learning Exchange is the world’s first web-based, digital library of learning objects for social work and social care. It includes a wide range of learning resources and a powerful search engine to aid the discovery of high quality content. Whether used for individual study and reflection or deployed in the context of a training programme, the resources of the Learning Exchange will assist workers to meet their PRTL requirements. For more information please visit

The Scottish Social Services Learning Network is a project designed to support the learning and development of Scotland’s social service workforce. Its purpose is to bring people and resources together to support effective practice. Irrespective of occupation or sector, if you’re employed in a social service in Scotland the Learning Network will support your learning and development needs. There are four regional Learning Networks in Scotland.  For further information about the Learning Networks and how to contact your regional Learning Network visit

The Centres for Excellence provide an important learning and development resource in their specialised fields. The Centres enable the development of evidence-based practice, the application of critical methods of learning, enquiry and practice development in order to enhance the capacity, knowledge and skills in each specialised field. 

The Scottish Executive currently funds the following six Centres for Excellence:
Criminal Justice Development Centre (CJDC)
Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC)
Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD)
Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC)
Scottish Training on Drugs and Alcohol (STRADA)
Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education (SIESWE)

You can also contact the SSSC if you would like further information about PRTL, CPD or registration:

Scottish Social Services Council, PO Box 10254, DUNDEE DD1 4YE
Helpline Lo-Call 084560 30 891 – Open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm (Wednesday 10am – 5pm)
Email: [email protected] – Website: