Newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) in Swansea and other parts of Wales will be able to gain a work-based graduate certificate as part of their post-qualification training from May.
The move is part of a nation-wide shake-up of postgraduate training for social workers in Wales.
The certificate can only be completed following by NQSWs following their first year in practice and is designed to consolidate the practical learning and skills they obtain “on the job” within the first three years.
Hywel Jones, principal officer for staff development and training at Swansea council said 12 councils in Wales had decided to collaborate to create the certificate, which has been approved by the Care Council for Wales (CCW) and validated by the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.
“We knew the CCW was working to introduce changes to continuing professional development requirements for social workers. At the same time, changes to UK qualification procedures were being introduced to allow degree and postgraduate level qualifications to be undertaken outside of traditional higher education institutions.
“That’s when we decided it was worth investigating whether we could do something like this. We felt strongly that, as employers, we should have more control over how NQSWs were developing their practice.”
He said university tutors were often, understandably, not as up-to-date in their practice as frontline managers.
“It was also important to us that the considerable amount of work-based learning newly qualified staff undertake within their first years be recognised.”
He said the programme was validated by a university, so it was still subject to all the quality assurance safeguards necessary to give it credibility and recognition.
The graduate certificate is designed to be completed over a full year at least and consists of a mandatory induction day and two other mandatory training days – one on partnership working and critical reflection and another on working and communicating with service users and carers.
There are also optional support workshops and monthly mentoring/supervision meetings, normally with a line manager.
This will all contribute to a required portfolio that must be submitted at the end of the programme and is linked to the learning outcomes specified by the CCW.
Around 70 graduates from 2011 have opted to undertake the bilingual course and will begin the programme during May this year. It will be mandatory for social workers graduating from July 2012 onwards.
The other 10 local authorities in south east Wales are developing their own consolidation programmes. The long-term aim is to link all these programmes with the re-registration of social workers in Wales.