About 400 more social work apprentices could be recruited over the next year in England courtesy of a £12m fund designed to boost practitioner capacity adults’ services, announced by the government today.
The Department of Health and Social Care is inviting expressions of interest from councils for up to £30,000 per apprentice to help them resource the recruitment, supervision and training of additional trainees, up to the end of March 2025.
The DHSC said it expected the funding would help authorities boost social work capacity to help them tackle waiting lists for assessments, support discharges from hospital and deliver safeguarding enquiries and other complex casework.
Opening up access to social work
With apprentices able to earn a salary in a council post while they learn, the DHSC said it also anticipated that the funding would enable people unable to afford to train through a traditional degree to pursue social work as a career.
The DHSC trailed the adult social work apprenticeship fund earlier this month, as part of a wider £20m package that will also fund the training of nurses in adult social care.
Today it set out the process through which councils could claim and then use the money.
The DHSC is making £8m in an additional funding round with a further £4m allocated in the spring and authorities able to make one bid at each stage.
To access the funding, councils must commit to employing the apprenticeship beyond the end of the funding period (March 2025) until the end of their degree programme and confirm that their university partner can deliver the training.
Funding must be used on additional apprentices
The fund must be used for additional apprentices beyond those that councils are already planning to recruit and train and may not be spent on the costs of their three-year degree, which tends to be £24,000. These are covered by the apprenticeship levy, a 0.5% charge on the pay bill of larger employers, including councils.
The DHSC said that examples of what the apprenticeship fund could be used on included:
- recruiting the additional apprentices (excluding marketing costs);
- practice educator recruitment and training;
- setting up, co-ordinating and managing the apprenticeship programme or the relationship with the training provider;
- contrasting practice placements, for example, in children’s services;
- other non-training costs not currently covered by the apprenticeship levy (excluding any backfill-related costs), such as travel or management costs.
As well as degree costs, the fund may not be used for salary costs for staff covering apprenticeships when they are away on training, which tends to be one day a week.
The DHSC will inform successful authorities in March.
About social work apprenticeships
Social work apprenticeships are degree-level qualifications that generally take three years, with apprentices spending at least 20% of their time in off-the-job training, delivered by a university or other learning provider.
They spend the rest of the time carrying out their substantive role, though employers also arrange social work placements for them, in line with Social Work England’s requirements for students to do 200 days of practice learning across their course.
According to Skills for Care, 740 people started social work apprenticeships in 2021-22. As well as the DHSC funding for council adults’ services to train apprentices, the Department for Education has done the same in relation to social work apprenticeships in children’s services.