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New social work apprenticeship makes impact


A new Apprenticeship at the University of Wolverhampton is helping to tackle the shortage of trained social workers.

The first cohort of students on the Social Work Degree Apprenticeship started the course in September.

The Apprenticeship has been designed to provide ‘non-traditional’ students with flexible routes to professional training. It also provides employers with an opportunity to enhance their own recruitment and retention of staff by enabling them to offer career development and progression to members of their workforce.

Rosalie Penn, Organisational Development Business Partner for Apprenticeships at the Council, said: “As in many authorities, we have a recruitment and retention issue for Social Workers and have a local shortage of trained and knowledgeable social workers.  To help this workforce planning issue, the Social Work Degree Apprenticeship was important to us and we were keen to make it work.

“There are multiple benefits to us as an employer. We have a history of long serving, caring and dedicated workforce in our social care departments, but not all were able to achieve a degree on their own. Offering this opportunity to suitable placed employees and allowing the day release option to gain such a valuable career changing offer was key to delivering the opportunity to loyal staff and hopefully retain the members of staff in to social work positions.

“Completing a degree programme and having a full time job is a big ask and the students have to be very driven and dedicated to the profession to achieve the qualification.  But the achievements and opportunity has never been on offer in this way before – and it is a fantastic one.  We have all spent a huge amount of time in order to get this Apprenticeship off the ground - from Dudley’s perspective, it is a very big change management programme.  We are changing the culture of how people can become professionally trained social workers.”

Nicky Westwood is Deputy Director Business Development (Apprenticeships) at the University. She added: “Our Apprenticeship programmes within the Faculty of Education Health and Wellbeing provide a flexible route to further or new professional training for our “non-traditional” students through supporting and developing inclusive work - based learning approaches and curriculum.

“A Degree Apprenticeship represents the best of both worlds offering the combination of academic and vocational, a degree and a job through aspirational programmes supporting Apprentices to learn “on” and “off” the job to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be occupationally competent for a defined profession.

“Our Social Work Apprenticeship programme was launched in September 2019 following a successful validation and continuous collaborative working with our employers and local authorities to develop an Apprenticeship programme that aligned to their workforce development needs and to deliver an Apprenticeship programme to staff to provide development and career changing opportunities.

“At the start of the programme Apprentices said they were starting their journey on a professional programme into a career they have always dreamed of doing and demonstrated passion and commitment and dedication to become professionally trained Social Workers.”

The University of Wolverhampton is supporting the 13th annual National Apprenticeship Week from 3 – 9 February 2020.

For more information about Apprenticeships, visit: 

Further information

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Thursday, 06 February 2020

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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