The Social Work Integrated Degree Apprenticeship has been signed off by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) and will shortly be published online.
The apprenticeship standard and assessment plan are ready for use after nearly two years of work by the trailblazer group of 70 employers, universities and representative organisations.
Jane Hanrahan, head of the trailblazer group and Workforce Development Manager at Norfolk County Council has had a key part to play in the publication of this standard. She says, 'Getting to this stage has taken us longer than anticipated, but the employer trailblazer group, supported by expertise from social work training providers, has worked tirelessly to successfully reach this stage...The trailblazer group set out to design an apprenticeship that would provide a new opportunity for career progression for high-quality candidates within the social care workforce. It'll help employers deliver their workforce plans, support employee retention and enable the apprenticeship levy to target an important skills gap.
'With the apprenticeship standard now published, employers and training providers can implement their plans to establish degree programmes and recruit apprentices...In Norfolk, the social worker apprentice role is being embedded as part of our workforce plans and we already have significant numbers interested in this as a career option.'
The social worker degree is a mandatory qualification of this 'integrated' apprenticeship, but it doesn’t need to be completed before end-point assessment starts. The end-point assessment is integrated into the degree, forming the last 60 credits which should be achieved in the last six months of the three-year apprenticeship.
The end-point assessor can be from the same university (or somewhere else) but can't have been involved in the apprentice’s training.
Skills for Care Chief Executive Officer, Sharon Allen said, 'One of the proudest days of my career was when I qualified as a social worker and this Integrated Degree Apprenticeship will support others to join a profession that makes such a difference day in and day out in our communities. I'm incredibly grateful to the trailblazer group for their support and tenacity in creating a degree apprenticeship that's not only fit for purpose but will inspire a new generation of social workers.'
Work still needs to be done by universities and employers before anyone can start a Social Work Integrated Degree Apprenticeship. Over the next few months, these steps will need to be taken:
- Universities already on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers will need to join the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations to be able to deliver this apprenticeship.
- Universities will need to redesign their degrees to integrate the assessment methods of the apprenticeship. The degrees will need to pass internal checks and then be signed off by the regulator, HCPC. Some universities have already started this process.
- Employers will need to negotiate deals with their partner universities about price (the maximum funding band is set at £23,000 by the IfA), entry criteria and programme structure. Most employers have indicated that they will initially look to recruit in-house.