Council bosses are considering looking overseas for social workers amid a struggle to hire new staff.

Barnet Council had 62 vacant social worker posts in November last year – seven more than in July, recently published figures show.

It comes as the council continues to try to improve its children’s services after they were upgraded from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ by Ofsted.

A report to the children, education and safeguarding committee says the vacancy rate is expected to fall as a group of students moves into social work posts in the coming months.

It also reveals the council is “looking at the potential of recruiting from overseas”, as local authorities face similar recruitment problems across London.

At a meeting of the committee on Monday (January 13), Cllr Felix Byers (Conservative, East Barnet) asked for an update on the current recruitment position.

Chris Munday, Barnet’s executive director for children and young people, said the council had done “lots of things”, including paying for an advert in The Guardian newspaper, to try to encourage people to apply for social work posts.

But he added it is easy for social workers to move freely between local authorities in search of better pay and conditions.

Mr Munday said: “We have looked at the people who left to see if we could have done anything differently. I am not worried from a retention perspective.

“I think we have had some challenges in the fact that we are moving base from one side of the borough to the other – that means people are less certain where they are going to be working.

“The research suggests that the biggest impact is not necessarily training new workers, but it is that a number of staff leave social work after three years and do not want to carry on being a social worker because of the job.”

Mr Munday said he would like to see a national campaign encouraging people to take up social work, similar to the adverts promoting a career in teaching.

Committee chairman Cllr David Longstaff (Conservative, High Barnet) said: “I would say there’s quite a lot of unappreciated stress and risk-taking in the job, and it is very, very difficult. Recruiting social workers is not as easy as it would first appear.”

Brigitte Jordaan, operational director for family services, said the council tried to move staff between teams to give them different experiences and keep them engaged, “so we keep the skills and ability in Barnet”.