If you’re interested in a fulfilling career in social work and researching how to become a social worker, then this blog can help with at least one of those routes – degree apprenticeships.
Social work can be a challenging but rewarding career. Social workers work closely with individuals, families, and other agencies to help them resolve issues and make their life better.
To begin your journey as a social worker, you will need an honours degree or postgraduate qualification in social work which is approved by one of the four regulators. One such qualification is a BA (Hons) Social Worker which is the academic award element of the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship, approved by Social Work England.
Here we look at five ways a social worker apprenticeship can help start your social work career. Plus, we’ll look at how ARU apprentice, Amy Mann, launched her social work career through the degree apprenticeship route.
1. Earn while you learn
Degree apprentices train whilst in full-time employment, in a job role that is compatible with the apprenticeship they are undertaking. For Amy Mann who works for Essex County Council, and started her social worker apprenticeship at the start of 2023, this means progressing her career as a community support worker and learning on the job.
As Amy explains, “I have been able to learn the job in the role of a Community Support Worker and I have also just started my learning at university. This option of apprenticeship allows learning and being paid a full-time wage at the same time, avoiding any type of student finance debt, which is a relief.”
2. No tuition fees
Under apprenticeship rules, it’s the employer who pays, not the apprentice. For employers who operate in England and have an annual payroll of over £3 million, they pay a levy of 0.5% of their payroll into a levy account. For SMEs not required to pay the levy, they will pay only 5% of the cost of the apprenticeship programme while the government pays the remaining 95%.
It’s a win-win for everybody.
3. On-the-job training with support
One of the advantages of an apprenticeship is that you gain on-the-job training through your employment, alongside gaining a relevant qualification – in this case the BA (Hons) Social Worker – all with the support of your employer and ARU.
On completion, the apprenticeship is proof that you have the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours required for that job role. In turn, employers feel confident they are investing in a highly skilled and knowledgeable employee.
Amy Mann has experienced this first-hand; “I can apply the information and legislation I have learnt to my current role as a Community Support Worker. I am sure my learning at the University will benefit and improve my practice. Being able to have the time out of work, having off-the-job hours, has really supported my time for learning and dedication to my university work.”
4. Learning that impacts on real work practice
If it’s one thing that we hear ARU apprentices report is that what they learn in the classroom they can bring into their workplace. This means that apprenticeships have a positive impact on their work practice.
Amy Mann is already seeing the effects of her learning on her attitude to her job; “I only started my course in January and, therefore, have not been in a learning environment for very long. However, what I have learnt I am already applying to my practice. From my learning, I am really considering my personal values and how my professional values should always outweigh these, and I should remain non-judgemental in my current role.”
5. Social work apprenticeship vacancies
The find-an-apprenticeship government website advertises all apprenticeship vacancies, including social worker apprenticeship vacancies.
For tips on applying for an apprenticeship see How to apply for an apprenticeship - ARU
You may already be working in a related role within a local authority, for example, and looking to develop your career into social work. Take Amy - she worked at Essex County Council for four years before embarking on the degree apprenticeship programme.
As she tells us in her words, “When I left high school five years ago, I did not know what I wanted to do and, therefore, chose to get a job instead of going to university when I was 18. I have been working for Essex County Council for nearly four years now and I have heard about the apprenticeship a few times [before I decided to take the leap].”
We’ve outlined just five ways a social worker apprenticeship could kickstart your career – there are many more, and for those looking to explore this degree level apprenticeship they can find out more at Social Worker - BA (Hons) - ARU or come along to one of our Open Days and talk to our experts.
Degree apprenticeships are a great way to start or progress your career but don’t take our word for it - let’s give Amy the last word; “I feel lucky I can go to university and be paid in a job role, allowing me to gain lots of experience, alongside learning. I have been able to make friends and share knowledge with a wide range of people from different backgrounds. I am positive about the apprenticeship and feel with more time and learning I will be able to comment more on this.”