Requirements for all social work graduates to complete an assessed first year of practice could come into effect as early as 2012, four years earlier than originally planned.
The Social Work Reform Board wants the “assessed year in employment” to replace existing support programmes for newly qualified social workers as part of its overhaul of the training system in England.
The board had originally planned to implement the assessed year in 2016 after running pilots for four years.
But it has asked Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council to look at options for accelerating its development based on learning from the existing support schemes.
“There was concern about the four-year gap between the NQSW programmes and implementation of the assessed year. It’s a long time,” explained Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social work and chair of the reform board’s career development group.
“Bringing implementation forward would allow us to build on the lessons learned from the NQSW programmes, so there would be a smoother transition.”
Under the assessed year in employment plan, all graduates from social work courses would need to obtain employment as the final stage of their training.
The scheme would entitle them to protected supervision and training time, and participants would need to pass formal skills assessments at the end of the year before being granted a licence to practise.
The board has asked Skills for Care and the CWDC to produce a report by its next meeting in late November, to set out the possible risks and implications of bringing forward phased implementation of the assessed year.
“To get Skills for Care and the CWDC to develop this together and take it forward as a single programme is a real priority,” Pile said at Skills for Care’s national conference this week.
It is understood they will look at four elements: the standards expected of newly-graduated social workers; frameworks for supporting them and their employers; and an end of year assessment.
“We’re hoping to begin implementing the assessed year in the autumn of 2012,” confirmed David Croisdale-Appleby, chair of Skills for Care.
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