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31 Oct 2023

Workforce data Social service workforce

New report shows most Scottish local authorities find it difficult to recruit social workers

We have published our first six-monthly survey report which analyses the landscape of Scotland’s filled and vacant social worker and senior social worker posts in local authorities.

We produced the report to provide an accurate picture of social work vacancies at the request of Scottish Government.

To gather the data presented in the report we carried out the first six-monthly survey of local authority social work services (LASWS) between June and August 2023. Twenty-nine local authorities completed the survey.

This report compares data from the annual censuses of LASWS from December 2018 to December 2022 with data from June 2023 to provide background and context.

Key findings from the report

  • Almost all local authorities that responded find it difficult to fill social worker vacancies. The main reasons are there are too few applicants and too few applicants with experience or qualifications.
  • There is a 1.3% decrease in the whole time equivalent (WTE) of practising social worker filled posts compared to December 2022.
  • In June 2023 there was a practising social worker vacancy rate of 11.8%.
  • This appears to reflect increasing demand for social workers.
  • Other challenges to filling social worker posts include remoteness of posts and competing salaries offered by neighbouring local authorities.

Our survey results also noted that high numbers of vacancies resulted in exhaustion and burnout for social workers currently in post.

Read the Social worker filled posts and vacancies six-monthly survey report.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council