Find your career in social care with a social work apprenticeship

Residents interested in a career in social work have a new route to pursue their career with Oxfordshire County Council’s social work apprenticeships in adult’s and children’s social care.

In partnership with Buckinghamshire New University, the scheme gives individuals already working within a social work setting the opportunity to gain the skills and values that are needed to become qualified social workers in a practical environment.

Melanie Pearce, Principal Social Worker in Adult Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council, explained: “Oxfordshire is one of a number of trailblazing organisations offering a new apprenticeship route into social work. These new apprentices will achieve a degree in social work whilst gaining essential on-the-job experience to develop the knowledge and skills required to be able to practice as social workers following their graduation.

“This is an exciting development, offering a route into practice that combines the best of real-life experience with the academic rigour of a university degree. We are pleased to have recruited some talented new apprentices within adult social care in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University who will be starting on their apprenticeship journeys in their new roles this month.”

Here some of the council’s first cohort of apprentices have been talking about their experiences, and what has led them to the scheme.

Meet Nicola

Nicola Wheat, 26, from Cowley works in the Learning Disability Community Connections Team in adult social care.

In May 2019 she moved to the Learning Disabilities Team, a county wide multi-agency role working predominantly with people living with a learning disability/autism. After being offered the social work apprenticeship Nicola will be returning to the Adult Social Care City Team.

Her apprenticeship allows her to continue in her role as a Social Work Coordinator, while also studying for her degree in social work.

I feel like different events over the past few years have in themselves been signposting me in the direction of pursuing social work further. In studying the degree in social work I will gain a greater understanding of social problems, their causes, their solutions and the impacts these have while allowing me to obtain the skills I require to be successful in my chosen career path.” Nicola said.

“I am inspired by this quote by Sterling Woods, there is nothing more rewarding and satisfying than helping a client solve a problem or supporting them through a hard time in their life."

Meet Natt

Natt Webb is 33 years old and part of the Vale social care team.

Natt first started working in social care as an administrator, working closely with both social workers and occupational therapists in the team.

“Working with the social workers and occupational therapists, I found their work really interesting and rewarding. I was encouraged to apply for the Coordinator role after a year of admin work and have been in post for five years now” said Natt.

“There has been a lot of hard work and learning over these five years, and I owe a lot of thanks to those that have taken time out of their day to support me and help me learn along the way.

“I have developed a passion and interest for social work through my coordinator role and now want to progress my career to the next level.

“I applied for the apprenticeship with support from my team and was successful this year getting on to the course. I am really excited about the next three years and looking forward to the new challenges ahead.”

Natt and Nicola are part of the first cohort of social work apprentices with the council, alongside three apprentices who are working within children’s social care.

Melanie continued: “We are immensely proud of our home-grown apprentices. Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for everybody of all ages, and from all backgrounds, to retrain and enter a highly rewarding career in social care.

“Our scheme offers everyone flexibility to continue in their current role, while working towards the qualification – so is a great opportunity for anybody who might be interested in social work.

More information

Find out more about the social work apprenticeship scheme here.

Read more about apprenticeships at Oxfordshire County Council here.