NQSWs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds disproportionately failing ASYE

Skills for Care says it is “very concerning” that a quarter of Newly Qualified Social Workers who identified as BAME account for more than half of all ASYE fails.

07/06/21

NQSWs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds disproportionately failing ASYE

New data has found that social workers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are failing the ASYE at a disproportionate rate to their colleagues who identified as ‘White’.

Skills for Care says it is “very concerned” that 53% of all ASYE fails are attributed to those who are “identified as BAME”, despite making up just 26% of the total number of Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs) registered.

By comparison, the 60% of NQSWs who identify as ‘White’ account for 47% of the total fails.

“This is a serious finding, and most employers acknowledge that there is work for them to do in embedding proactive approaches to overcoming inequalities and addressing systemic racism,” Skills for Care said.

The strategic body for workforce development in adult social care in England says it is using the terminology ‘BAME’ “until further research and consultation with BAME communities determine an agreed and acceptable replacement for the term BAME.”

Skills for Care says it has begun conversations with stakeholders on race and ethnicity in the context of the ASYE as a response to the data.

“The activities of the Black Lives Matter protests have once again highlighted systemic failures which have minoritised, discriminated against and continue to disadvantage Black and other ethnically diverse people in all walks of life,” Skills for Care’s annual report said.

“Going forward it is our intention to be explicit about the need for anti-racist practice in the ASYE alongside the need for inclusivity,” the body said, adding that it was encouraging employers to do the same.

Skills for Care says that its visits to employers confirmed that there had been a renewed focus on matters of equality, diversity and inclusion in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, however the extent to which this filtered into the ASYE in a practical sense has been limited.

Reviewers from Skills for Care said in its visits it found that some employers had adopted programmes including wide-ranging impact assessments, and scrutiny of vacancy rates and data to try and “flatten the bias” in the system. However, most programmes “appear more reactive, offering robust responses when a problem is identified, but not monitoring experience or delving deeply into the causes. In these situations, the responses tended to be more process driven and procedural.”

Wayne Reid, a social worker and anti-racism activist, reiterating his position from a recent article, said individuals and organisations that are anti-racist are much more likely to recognise why they themselves are potentially racist; understand how they have been socialised to be inherently racist and identify the benefits they receive from the existing racist structures.

“Those who finance, regulate, inspect and dictate the profession’s policies must do more than just be seen to acknowledge [racism].” Reid added: “However, there is rarely accountability, substance or, more importantly – action.”

Skills for Care said NQSWs interviewed during their visits mainly spoke positively about their direct experience; however one NQSW said equality was raised in supervision but felt more of a box-ticking exercise, while another expressed frustration around “mistaken assumptions that because a worker is from a particular ethnic community, they are the ‘go to’ expert.”

The report has recommended that employers ensure that all NQSWs and supervisors have the training and support to call out racist practices, as well as encouraging “hard to have” conversations which may be awkward or clumsy but where individuals are not afraid to say the wrong thing and learn from the ensuing dialogue.

They are also recommending that employers capture and analyse data around ethnicity, recruitment and achievement and consider how they can incorporate an analysis of this data and feedback from NQSWs about their lived experience within their quality assurance.

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