Way social workers trained needs to change, says Pat Rabbitte

The chairman of Tusla is calling for a change in the way social workers are trained in Ireland.

Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte says the volume of social workers graduating from traditional universities is not sufficient to meet demand and there is a need “to go outside traditional universities.”

He told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that courses in social work should be considered at the institutes of technology around the country, he also called for the establishment of conversion courses.

If Ireland were to have the same ratio of social workers as exists in the UK then it would be necessary to recruit 1,500 extra social workers, he said.

At present just over 200 social workers are graduating from traditional universities every year, he explained while last year 158 social workers were lost through retirement or leaving the sector.

There is an acute shortage of social workers. It is a big problem for us. At any time there are 92 people on maternity leave.

Mr Rabbitte added that Tusla has 4,000 employees and had dealt with 57,000 referrals last year. “It is a big organisation and the need is big.”

The former Minister for Children said he views his new role as worthwhile and a great challenge. He had thought “long and hard” before accepting the position. “It is a fascinating area and a worthwhile endeavor.”

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