Social work apprenticeships to launch next year

New pathway into practice likely to open for most in September 2019 after wrangling over assessment format caused delays

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Photo: Money Business Images/Rex

Story updated 4 December

Social work degree apprenticeships have finally been signed off and should be widely available from next autumn.

The apprenticeships, which were originally meant to launch in September but faced delays, in part because of wrangling over assessment formats, are now “ready for use” according to a statement by Skills for Care.

The apprenticeship standard and assessment plan has now been published on the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) website.

Jane Hanrahan, the HR learning and development manager at Norfolk council, who chairs the ‘trailblazer’ group of councils and universities involved in developing the scheme, said she hoped the qualification could have a “significant positive impact” on numbers entering social work.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for people working in social work support roles to earn a living while qualifying,” she told Community Care. “We can select good candidates we know and put them through the process, so there should be a whole new stream of social workers whose quality we can be confident in.”

Hanrahan, who said a “great long list” of people at Norfolk council had expressed an interest in the apprenticeships, added that she hoped some higher education institutions could be offering the apprenticeships by spring 2019.

But she acknowledged that for most employers, September 2019 would be a “realistic” starting date for delivering social work apprenticeships.

Assessment issues

The social work degree apprenticeship runs for three years and has been designed to offer a career progression pathway for people already working within social care.

Final ‘endpoint’ assessment formats, which had been a sticking point, will now be based around critiquing and presenting on a chosen case, and on a responsive ‘scenario exercise’ mirroring a developing workplace situation, Hanrahan said.

The IfA had pushed for practice observation to form part of the assessment, but employers and universities had deemed this “impractical and inappropriate” given that this already formed a key part of assessment during the degree.

The endpoint assessments make up the degree apprenticeships’ final 60 credits, typically filling the place where a dissertation would sit within a regular degree. Employers and partner universities could though still include some kind of dissertation within their degrees if they felt it appropriate, Hanrahan said.

With the framework approved, work still needs to be done by universities to redesign courses to accommodate the new assessment methods, Skills for Care said. Employers must also negotiate deals with partner universities around how much the apprenticeships will cost them.

Under the final agreement, a figure of £23,000 has been set as the maximum the government will contribute towards off-the-job training and assessment per apprentice.

‘Immersive development’

Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, said she was “delighted” the apprenticeships had been signed off.

“Having a uniquely immersive way to develop their knowledge and skills as part of a social care team, while undertaking the required academic study to become social workers, provides another route for people who aren’t in a position to take time out to do a full time degree,” Romeo said.

Meanwhile the chief children’s social worker, Isabelle Trowler, praised the “commitment” of the trailblazer group in getting the apprenticeships finalised.

“This will further broaden the entry routes into one of the most rewarding professions – helping to bring in a diverse cohort of talented individuals, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to be outstanding social workers,” Trowler said.

7 Responses to Social work apprenticeships to launch next year

  1. Daisy November 29, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    Due to social workers perceived low status amongst other professionals, the qualification to register was raised to degree level. This new scheme appears to be a step backwards and is not addressing the real issues within social work, which is the expectation that social workers will work many unpaid hours every week, and the bullying culture which permeates to the very core of social work. This new scheme will be able to churn out even more workers to become the cannon fodder required to do the emotionally, physically and intellectually demanding work required to keep children and young people safe from harm and achieve their potential.

    When will social work policy advisors, HCPC etc, acknowledge and accept the answer is not to continually find new ways to produce more workers, many of whom will leave social work within a few years due to the previously stated issues, but to radically change the working conditions and expectations of workers which leads to early burn out, and radically change the bullying environment in which only bullies survive and are promoted to management roles and thus the whole dysfunctional cycle continues.

  2. Overseas November 29, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    Desperate attempt to fill in gaps. Seems to be cheap labour to do very serious responsible profession. If anything like support and supervision for ASYE. But at least these have already some experience alongside a theoretical basis to go from.

    Not a good idea in my opinion.

    There’s already a lot of people thinking they’re social workers causing a lot of damage.

    How will they be regulated? The same as ASYE’s?

    This is really worrying.

    Will there be apprenticeship’s for surgeon’s too? GP’? Etc. They are also very much needed!

    • Michelle December 3, 2018 at 7:44 am #

      There are some excellent workers already working at Tier 3, who I might like to add do not cause damage and are valuable in preventing cases from escalating to Tier 4. An opportunity like this will enable those workers to continue to carry on working on the job whist completing the apprenticeship.

  3. Donna November 29, 2018 at 11:45 pm #

    Totally agree

  4. Jayne December 1, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    I think this is a great idea if managed and monitored properly. There are lots of highly skilled, extremely experienced people working within social care alongside social workers. Often they are the consistency within teams when there is a high turnover over of social workers. They have already shown an ability to do the practical side of the job so why not receive the theory.

    I’ve been a children’s and families practitioner for 15 years and this is the only chance I have of becoming a social worker due to family finances.

  5. Ivy Chipfatsura December 2, 2018 at 5:03 am #

    I will like to do apperenticeship. I have Degree in health care study and I am work with merseycare NHS as a support worker

  6. La worker December 5, 2018 at 12:45 am #

    Sadly, most won’t get a positive experience due to significant staff shortages and pressures will prevent learning and reflection. Slowly, eroding a profession instead of focussing on why and what the struggles are and improving working conditions to gain professional staff who are happy to come to work.

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