As an apprentice social worker, you will assist people and families in getting through tough times and finding answers to their difficulties. Your objective will be to make people’s lives better. This might be accomplished by safeguarding vulnerable persons, such as children and adults, or by aiding them to live more independently by providing them with the required assistance.
You must maintain professional relationships while also acting as a mentor and advocate. You may need to use your professional judgement to make tough decisions that may not always be well received by those you are striving to aid.
You’ll work in various settings, including schools, hospitals, and government and non-profit agencies. You are likely to specialise in children and their families or vulnerable adults.
A social work assistant may support you, and you will work closely with other health and social care specialists.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- offer information and counselling to clients and put together support plans
- help clients develop and maintain independent living skills
- support clients’ safety and take action to protect them when necessary
- work closely with communities, health professionals and other agencies
- meet with individuals and families to review their situation
- keep records, write reports and discuss cases with your supervisors.
- There are no fixed national salary scales, but salaries are typically between £24,000 and £30,000.
- With further responsibilities and experience, salaries in local authorities can rise to around £40,000.
- Senior posts such as team manager, commissioning manager and head of service can earn in excess of this amount.
Working hours per week are around 37 to 40 hours. Residential care social workers are required to work unsocial hours regularly. Working in child welfare or fostering and adoption teams may require evening and weekend work.
You could work in an office, in an NHS or private hospital, at an adult care home, at a children’s care home or in the community.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice social worker include:
- Level 6 Social Worker – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 30 months to complete.
On a social worker apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- sensitivity and understanding
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be flexible and open to change
- knowledge of sociology and an understanding of society and culture
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- active listening skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Social workers are employed by:
- social service departments of local authorities in England and Wales
- social work departments in Scotland
- health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland
- primary care/health service trusts
- GP practices
- hospitals and hospices
- children’s homes
- private sector nursing homes
- voluntary and independent agencies.
Qualified social workers in England must register with Social Work England and renew their registration annually. To stay on the register, you must continue to study and train via continual professional development (CPD). This includes reading and attending conferences and training sessions.
If you work for a large firm, they will usually aid you in finding appropriate training courses or may put you through their training programmes.
By becoming a member of BASW, you will have access to conferences, seminars, and other training opportunities, as well as remain in touch with the profession.
To be effective, social workers must also strengthen their IT, problem-solving, communication, cooperation, and personal and professional development skills.
After completing the appropriate introduction and training, there are various specialised professions in social work accessible.
A change in duty within a specialisation, such as from child protection to fostering and adoption, may lead to progression. It is also possible to transition from one speciality to another, from working with children to working with the elderly.
Advancement in social work is likely to take you away from hands-on work. For example, you may move to senior practitioner, team, or care manager after three to five years of experience. In this job, you would oversee other social workers (which would mean less direct engagement) and be more engaged in managerial, financial, and political issues.
Another alternative is to train as a practice educator, which allows you to oversee and manage social work students and less experienced staff.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Social Work England regulate, audit, and monitor social care services in England. They also provide opportunities for growth in one’s current position. Social Care Wales in Wales, NISCC in Northern Ireland, and SSSC in Scotland are in charge of this.
Another option is to transition from one industry to another (statutory, voluntary and independent). For example, consider employment in training and lecturing, as well as project work and secondments.