Question: I am looking for an unqualified social work position where, hopefully, I can be sponsored to study social work while working. I have experience of voluntary work with children in care and spent time in care myself as a young person. What options are available to me?
Answer: Your options will depend on a number of things, including your academic qualifications because you will need to show that you can undertake university studies successfully.
You don't mention what qualifications you have, but look online at the qualification requirements of nearby universities that offer social work degrees or elsewhere if you are able to move. Your volunteering and care experiences should be useful and you should make the most of these.
It has been possible in the past to be funded by a local council to undertake social work training but these opportunities are now contracting. Many councils fund a small number of trainees, but these are usually people with good degrees or, less often, their own staff. However, some councils continue to run such schemes. New trainee schemes for graduates are advertised nationally by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It's worth enquiring at local councils about what is on offer.
When seeking work in children's services, much will depend on the job market locally and posts will be advertised on the local council website. Be prepared to think about other forms of employment in the NHS, education and other public sector bodies (such as benefits agencies, the prison service, addiction services). These may offer valuable experience that will be attractive to university admissions staff. Jobcentre Plus staff should be able to help.
The new Grow Your Own Toolkit published by the General Social Care Council - www.gscc.org.uk/publications - advises about the types of schemes on offer and the responsibilities and rights of all the parties in secondment, sponsorship and trainee schemes.
Prof Jill Manthorpe is director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King's College, London
“I am in a children and families team which has been struggling with a recent increase in referrals for family support and child protection for a good few months. We’ve all had a problem in keeping contact sheets after home visits but my manager, who has been negative towards me for a while, has singled me out for criticism for poor record-keeping in supervision sessions and meetings. They’re now threatening to refer me to the General Social Care Council for breaching the code of practice. I’m not only stressed out by work and the difficult relationship with my boss but now I’m getting very worried about my future. Please can you advise?”
➔ Do you have your own career dilemma? E-mail your comments or questions to Daniel Lombard
This article is published in the 7 January 2010 edition of Community Care under the headline "Will someone sponsor me to study?"