600 social workers to be trained through apprenticeships every year, government says

The group behind the new social work degree apprenticeship hopes training will begin in September 2018

Photo: Konstantin Yuganov/Fotolia

Local authorities look set to train around 600 social workers through apprenticeships, the government has said.

In its response to the consultation on accreditation, published this week, the Department for Education said early indications were that 600 apprentices across children’s and adults’ social work could be trained  per year via the new scheme.

The apprenticeship scheme, announced earlier this year, needs to be signed off by the Institute of Apprenticeship, but if that process is successful it will start training apprentices in September 2018.

A work-based route to qualification, the social work degree apprenticeship will see trainees paid from day one and mix on and off-the-job training. At the end of the three-year training period, and after sitting a test by their employer, trainees would gain a university degree. The HCPC has approved a national apprenticeship standard for social workers.

The apprenticeship scheme is being led by a group of around 30 employers and 30 universities, and is supported by Skills for Care.


The group had faced criticism that the scheme could “dumb down” social work standards. Sceptics were concerned that apprenticeships were being developed without a research base and was being led by employers in a period where Ofsted were finding high levels of failing leadership and management of social workers. There was also concern that the standards were moving away from an international definition of social work to a localised degree.

Speaking at a conference in July, head of programmes at Skills for Care, Graham Woodham, said the route is merely a different route of delivering training, and will meet the same academic standards as other routes.

Chair of the apprenticeships trailblazer group said at the same event the scheme was not about diluting the profession. “We’ve lots of people in social care interested in moving into the social work workforce but at the moment there’s a barrier for them. This scheme is all about removing the barrier.”

Different training routes

The government was referring to the scheme as part of a package of reforms introduced to improve the standard of social work practice and initial qualification, of which apprenticeships represent a further diversification and step away from the ‘traditional’ degree routes.

Other changes include investments in fast-track routes Frontline and Step Up, which have trained more than 1,300 social workers with a thousand more currently enrolled on the programmes. The government said it is also funding teaching partnerships, with 15 now covering 72 local authorities, 29 universities and a range of public, private, voluntary and independent organisations.

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13 Responses to 600 social workers to be trained through apprenticeships every year, government says

  1. peter December 7, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    As a long retired community social worker let’s hope the apprenticeship includes awareness, knowledge of and a radical assessment of community development theory and practice.

    • Stuart December 10, 2017 at 8:48 am #

      It won’t.

      As I’m sure you know Peter, Saul Alinsky went out of fashion some years ago. Sadly.

  2. Nev December 7, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    If there is such a shortage of social workers and having to train on the cheap-why are social workers being made redundant!!!!

    • Stuart December 10, 2017 at 8:50 am #

      That’ll be due to the ”high levels of failing leadership and management…”

  3. emma December 7, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Does anyone know if this is going to be available to people not currently working in social care or in relevant roles within social care?
    I went to a degree apprenticeship open evening last night and was disappointed to be told that there will only be about 1 or 2 positions and they will only be available to people who have extensive experience in social care

  4. Jocelyn December 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    We train apprentices in other sectors, since the levy which has been introduced large employers have been unable to recruit apprentices so I can’t see local councils suceeding to recruit these apprentices especially as they have to give them 20% of the working week off site to do training with pay

  5. Vikki Urch December 10, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    Can you tell me if this is happening in Devon.
    I have worked in social care for 20 years and this would be ideal for me

  6. Sam December 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    Does anybody know if this will be happening in Hampshire at all?

    • Paul December 13, 2017 at 10:44 am #

      Hampshire CSD is looking at introducing such a scheme but we can’t yet say what the timescales will be. Keep an eye on the HCC Recruiting website (or contact the Workforce Development team if you already work in HCC).

  7. Nuala December 13, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    Is Lancashire signing up to this?

  8. Heather December 17, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    Does anyone know what part of the country this will be rolled out to initially?

  9. Clive Rawes December 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

    How do I apply , Lancashire ,

  10. Rebecca January 1, 2018 at 4:15 am #

    Where in London is doing this