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First Essex Social Worker apprentices cross the stage

Published: 18 July 2023 at 11:31

Social Work degree apprentices celebrate their graduation

Students have combined studying at ARU with working for Essex local authorities

The first group of Social Worker degree apprentices from Essex local authorities celebrated their graduation at Chelmsford Cathedral.

The 18 students have combined academic study at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) with their roles at Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea City Council and Thurrock Council over the course of their three-year apprenticeship.

Backed by Social Work England, the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship offered by ARU supports the development of social work skills across a wide range of settings, including services for adults, children and families, and mental health.

The course combines online learning and activities from sector specialists and practitioners, with a series of face-to-face workshops from ARU’s academic team. The apprenticeship is ideal for new and existing social care support staff who have the potential to take on greater challenges and responsibility as qualified social workers.

Veronica John-Sdiri was among those graduating. Having worked for several years as an unqualified worker with Essex County Council, she had previously been unable to act on her aspiration to become a qualified social worker due to personal circumstances and childcare responsibilities. However, the degree apprenticeship route offered by the council and ARU enabled her to finally take that step.

Veronica said:

“The skills and knowledge gained will go on to benefit my future employability and career choices. It has allowed me to identify my areas of specific interests within social work such as social justice and advocacy which I would like to develop by undertaking human rights assessments as a speciality.  

“This Social Work Apprenticeship opportunity has allowed me to develop a fuller understanding of the individuals, families, and carers I work with. It has allowed me to develop and given me insight into both the theoretical and practical approaches to the work I do.”


Tom Taylor, Head of Degrees At Work at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) said:

“Social work is an incredibly rewarding job, and new social workers have never been more needed. 

“We are very proud of our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship graduates, the first of many to qualify in Essex through this apprenticeship route offered by ARU and local authority partners. These learners have demonstrated great commitment and resilience to overcome the challenges posed to their study by the pandemic.

“The success of this programme is also testimony to ARU’s strategic partnership with Essex authorities and illustrates how collaborative working can help address a local skills deficit.”


Cllr Beverley Egan, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early Years, said:

“The Social Work Degree Apprenticeship course at Anglia Ruskin University is helping to provide both new and existing social workers with the training they need to progress in their careers, whilst also improving the skills base of our workforce in an area where we know this is much needed. 

“It’s really exciting to see the first apprentices graduate and we look forward to see many more qualified social workers completing the course in the coming years.”