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Norfolk celebrates achievements of social work apprentices

Apprentice social workers have celebrated completing their three-year programme with a ceremony.

With difficulties in recruiting enough social workers to meet the huge demand nationally, Norfolk County Council has managed to 'grow its own' and help tackle the shortage of qualified social workers, thanks to the degree-level apprenticeship.

The Social Work Apprenticeship enables apprentices to study for a fully funded BA (Hons) in social work, while working full-time for the County Council and receiving a salary.

During the apprenticeship programme, students gain experience of working in a range of social work services, including time in both Adult Social Services and Children's Services. They also regularly attend teaching sessions, workshops, seminars and tutorials to develop their skills and knowledge, while being supported throughout the programme by mentors in the workplace.

Once the apprenticeship is successfully completed, the apprentice is awarded a BA (Hons) in Social Work and a guaranteed post as a newly qualified social worker (NQSW).

Norfolk's scheme won the 2023 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 'Apprenticeship Scheme of the Year Award' and is one of the first and largest schemes in the country.

The County Council also led on the development of the apprenticeship standard with the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Skills for Care. 

Danny Pooley recently completed the social worker apprenticeship programme and now works in Adult Social Services at Norfolk County Council. Talking about his experience, Danny said: "Knowing that I wanted to be a social worker, the apprenticeship gave me the unique opportunity to complete that goal, whilst remaining employed. It was a very challenging but rewarding journey and I have a huge sense of achievement at completing the degree."

Councillor Alison Thomas, cabinet member for Adult Social Services, said: "I was pleased to congratulate our graduates for their fantastic achievements in person at the ceremony last week. As a parent of a social worker, I know firsthand the amount of hard work and dedication it requires to complete studies at degree level. To undertake a degree level apprenticeship is a great challenge and doing this alongside a demanding job, and to such a high-level, is much harder and is truly phenomenal.

"Launched in 2020, our degree-level apprenticeship in social work is a relatively new scheme but it's already helping to make sure we've got the resources and skilled workforce we need going forward."

The apprenticeship scheme is open to anyone with at least two years direct experience of working with children and families or adults with care and support needs. The council is now looking for its next cohort of Social Work Apprentices, which will start in January 2025, and applications to a new Masters option, starting in September 2024.

To find out more about becoming a social worker visit the council's routes into social work web pages.

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