Developing the Social Work Apprenticeship Route at Staffordshire University
Sarah Redmond, Carolyn Gair & Becky Ford, Lecturers at Staffordshire University
We are delighted that following a visit from the HCPC last week, we are moving ahead with the Integrated Degree Apprenticeship Programme at Staffordshire University. We are looking forward to welcoming new apprentices onto the programme from January 2020 and we are now embarking on the exciting process of recruitment! The visit from the HCPC highlighted several areas that needed expansion and clarification and we are working through those conditions and recommendations as I write this.
The HCPC commended our team on the consultation and inclusion of people with lived experience of services. Becky ran several focus groups where service users were consulted on the shape of the programme alongside the identification of appropriate assessment methods to ensure that our apprentices remain person-centred throughout the course. In feedback from one of our service user group following the event we were described as a “formidable team” and we quite liked that!
We were also commended on the team-led approach that we took in developing the apprenticeship programme and we were absolutely thrilled that this had been recognised. Team work totally underpinned the way in which we approached the apprenticeship from the start and also the way we envisage the course as a whole. Carolyn and I myself ran several of events with our local partners to ensure clarity across the employers, the university and the potential apprentices. Current students and newly qualified social workers were invited to share their views via a Padlet and a Delphi questionnaire. Finally, the team offered two “Open Days” at the University to provide information to anyone who may be interested in applying for the apprenticeship and we were excited (and slightly overawed) to welcome over 200 potential candidates.
The philosophy underpinning the enterprise is to work in partnership with each apprentice, employer and member of the academic team to enhance the knowledge, skills and experience already held by each individual. We, as a team, started this process (way back!) as a demonstration of our commitment to local workforce development. All three of us have recently worked in the locality (some of us still do) and recognise the importance of encouraging social care practitioners to use their existing skills as a building block to move into social work as a career. These apprentices will form part of the future social work workforce both locally and nationally and we are so proud to be part of their pathway.