Joanna Rawles 25 March 2019

The future of social work: creating pathways through apprenticeships

The future of social work: creating pathways through apprenticeships image

Employees in the social work sector are coming under strain as they face a well-documented demand for services. At the same time, there are significant issues with attraction and retention – with close to 400,000 workers leaving the sector last year.

With these issues in mind, there is a pressing need for leaders to consider how best to manage and build the skills they need. Many are seeking to build a sustainable talent pipeline, whilst also stemming short-term shortages – it’s a difficult ask, and one of the many reasons that the new Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship has come at the right time.

How is this new route different?

The degree apprenticeship provides a vital new route for training new recruits and building on the skills of existing support workers, setting out a clear pathway for progression. As so much of the apprenticeship consists of work-based learning, it allows workers to enter the workforce straight away and apply their training right from the start.

Since April 2017, all employers with a wage bill over £3m have had to pay the apprenticeship levy – and this new qualification could help them get return on investment while plugging gaps in the workforce.

Not only is the apprenticeship open to people from diverse backgrounds, our flexible model, which blends online learning with face-to-face support, enables apprentices to fit their study around their work and personal lives. The approach also means that those who previously struggled with the demands of time or travel are able to learn whenever and wherever they like, so they are more likely to complete their apprenticeship.

Attracting new talent

The attractiveness of earning while learning cannot be underestimated. In an age of high tuition fees, and mounting student debt, the apprenticeship route becomes an even more appealing option for workers looking to develop higher skills – so offering the opportunity to get a degree without the cost can have a huge impact on bringing new workers into the sector.

And the same also applies to existing workers, particularly those in support roles who are looking for the opportunity to grow their skills. The investment in their training – in their future – means that most become loyal and are reassured about their career trajectory, which in turn leads to higher engagement.

The introduction of this important sixth route into the profession should be welcome news for both local authorities and private providers – as it provides them with even more options for creating a sustainable talent pipeline for the future. The apprenticeship adds an alternative to the qualifications already available, which could help to entice workers from more diverse backgrounds to become registered social workers.

Joanna Rawles is head of social work at The Open University

Creating communities for all ages image

Creating communities for all ages

Bringing younger and older people together produces dividends, says Stephen Burke, who outlines how councils can encourage more intergenerational care and living.
Revolutionising mental health image

Revolutionising mental health

Cllr Jasmine Ali explains how Southwark Council is putting plans into action to revolutionise children’s mental health in Southwark.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Service Manager - Children in Care

Pembrokeshire County Council
£46,514 - £48,412
The successful candidate will need to be able to manage a large number of competing and at times conflicting priorities, whilst... Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recuriter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Neighbourhood Services Divisional Manager

Northumberland County Council
You will provide professional and technical advice on all Neighbourhood Services functions. As an effective leader you will coordinate and manage... Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Associate Educational Psychologist

Essex County Council
Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local authorities in the UK, serving a population of 2 million residents, and has a England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Chief People Officer

Haringey London Borough Council
Up to £115k
It’s a broad and exciting role where you’ll have the chance to tackle complex, wide-scale change. Haringey, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Haringey London Borough Council

Social Work Assistant – Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£22,377 - £23,607 per annum
As a Social Work Assistant you will be involved in contributing to assessments of children and their families, providing support and guidance to... Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue