App is designed to equip the next generation of social workers.
Date: 05 September 2019
Social work academics and students at London Metropolitan University have created a first of its kind mobile app to help encourage the next generation of social workers and embed much needed digital literacy skills.
The app, titled ‘Starting your Social Work journey’, was presented on Wednesday 4 September and will be launching on app stores later on in the month. It has been developed in response to the government’s Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) initiative, commissioned by NHS England.
Dr Denise Turner, senior lecturer in Social Work at London Met, has spearheaded the development of the mobile app: “There is growing recognition that social work must innovate as a way of responding to the ever-increasing demands on the sector. Nationally, a new digital capabilities project is helping social workers to enhance skills in using digital technologies, and this new app fits with this growing national momentum.
“Our app provides people considering undertaking social work with a flexible, mobile resource to help them decide, whilst simultaneously enhancing their digital competency. We are particularly proud that this app has been student-led from inception, through production to completion."
"Social work is all about relationships and communication"
The app provides users with access to a series of informative videos and audio clips of current social work students at London Met, detailing their experiences and advice of studying the degree, as a way of preparing the next generation of social workers. The videos also explain how to prepare for assessments and interviews.
Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, has given her backing to London Met’s project: “Social work is all about relationships and communication. In our digital age, it is vital that social workers are well equipped and effective in using digital technology to engage with people with whom we work. Capability in utilising information and capturing what’s important and matters to people, and evidencing positive impact, is essential in supporting people to have the best possible lives.”
Recent research carried out for the Department of Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Department of Culture, Media and Sport consisted of a literature review stakeholder interviews and sector-specific case studies, including healthcare. The study reported that 72% of large companies and 49% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) faced digital skills shortages and there was a ‘mismatch in the types of skill offered by the labour market and those demanded’.
Senior academics at London Metropolitan University hope to expand the range of apps it offers in the coming years, to support applicants and professionals in the industry. Cultural awareness, safeguarding and practitioners dealing with bereavement are some of the subject matters under consideration.
A national drive
The app’s development began in June when Health Education England commissioned the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) to find ways of raising the digital competency of social workers.
Mick Landmann, Managing Director at Vivid Digital who helped develop the mobile app, said: “The need for trained social workers is ever increasing and the path to becoming a social worker can be very demanding. The development of this app is the start of a broader digital strategy that will transform the training and practice environment for social workers.”
Professor Don MacRaild, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at London Met, said: “The challenge of digital professionalism is significant in every sector of employment, but none more so than in social work. Combining the needs of students and employers, this app aligns excellently with our social mission. If future apps can support our new graduates out in the field, I believe this could be game-changing for the profession.”
The Building a digital ready workforce project is a national initiative led by NHS Health Education England which is driving change by encouraging the use of data, information, knowledge and technology to transform the way health and care services are offered in the UK.
The app will be available at the end of September.