The planned September 2018 launch of social work apprenticeships looks in doubt, with details of the scheme still to be signed off just two months before launch.
Earlier this year, a survey of children’s services directors by the Department for Education revealed that 70% of local authorities were planning to offer the apprenticeships, with a view to growing the overall workforce.
A late-June update from Skills for Care, which is supporting a ‘trailblazer’ group of employers and universities to develop an apprenticeship for training social workers, was hopeful the programme was “in the final phase of development”.
But it warned that, with the clock ticking, two key disputes remained unresolved.
One of these, around which government funding band will be attached to the social work degree apprenticeship, is currently being considered by the trailblazer group of councils.
‘Impractical and inappropriate’
Jane Hanrahan, the HR learning and development manager at Norfolk council, who chairs the trailblazer group, told Community Care that members had until 19 July 2018 to accept or appeal a banding of £23,000.
The figure is set by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), which helps develop and regulate schemes on behalf of the government, and would represent the maximum government contribution towards off-the-job training and assessment per apprentice.
Employers and higher education institutions (HEI), the Skills for Care update revealed, had also rejected a request from the IfA to include observation as part of apprentices’ final ‘end-point’ assessments, deeming it “impractical and inappropriate”.
Hanrahan said that the trailblazer group had made changes to the assessments in March but was still waiting clarification from the IfA, which she added the group was “pushing for”.
A spokesperson for the IfA said the social worker apprenticeship standard remained under development but was “progressing as expected”.
The spokesperson added: “We are working with the social worker trailblazer group to finalise the standard. We will look to sign off the assessment plan and agree the funding band recommendation in due course.”
Community Care will provide updates as the story develops.