With a variety of schemes available, including those in social work, social care apprenticeships enable you to train on the job - invaluable in a sector in need of more qualified workers
What social care apprenticeships are available?
Within the broad field of social care there are a number of opportunities, spanning all levels from intermediate (Level 2), all the way up to degree apprenticeships (Levels 6 and 7). Programmes are available in the following areas:
- adult care worker
- care assistant
- care worker
- children, young people and families practitioner/manager
- church minister
- community safety adviser
- community worker
- deputy manager
- personal assistant
- social worker
- support worker
- youth justice practitioner
- youth worker
- youth support worker.
To find out more about apprenticeships and the various levels, see what is an apprenticeship?
Can I do a social work apprenticeship?
Yes, it is possible to qualify as a social worker through an apprenticeship. As social work is a graduate profession you'll train through a Level 6 or 7 degree apprenticeship.
Taking approximately three years to complete, social work apprentices gain an honours degree (and in some cases a Masters) in social work, enabling them to register with Social Work England, the regulator for social workers.
Those on the social worker apprenticeship scheme earn while they learn as they undergo a mixture of on-the-job training and university study, with a minimum of 20% of an apprentice's paid working hours spent in off-the-job training. The beauty of degree apprenticeships is that you can qualify into a graduate role without having to pay tuition fees or being burdened by student debt.
Taught modules on the social work degree apprenticeship at Leeds Beckett University include:
- Understanding Social Work
- Working with Diversity
- Social Work with Children and Young People
- Models of Intervention.
While on the social work degree apprenticeship at the University of Kent you'll study units such as:
- Readiness for Direct Practice
- Social Work Theories, Interventions and Skills
- Social Work with Adults
- Making Sense of Mental Health
- Social Work in Multi-Agency Context.
Learn more about how to become a social worker.
Which companies offer social care apprenticeships?
This depends on what type of role you’re interested in, but you'll find that social care apprenticeships are offered by a range of employers. These primarily include:
- local and county councils
- government departments (such as HM Prison and Probation Service)
- charities (like Barnardos, Humankind)
- community organisations/centres
- residential and nursing homes
- rehabilitation centres
- the National Health Service (NHS) and emergency services.
Visit GOV.UK - Find an apprenticeship to see what apprenticeships are available.
What's involved in a social care apprenticeship?
This varies depending on the job, the company you work for and the level of apprenticeship you decide to complete, as does the length of programmes.
All social care and social work apprenticeships consist of a mixture of on-the-job training and classroom study.
However, to give you an example, it can take 12-18 months for an adult care worker apprentice to complete their Level 2 programme, which consists of providing frontline care to vulnerable adults to help them live as safely and independently as possible. This can be carried out within residential or nursing homes, day centres or their own homes.
On a three-year, Level 6 youth worker apprenticeship you'll plan and deliver a range of activities, events and projects to support young people and develop their personal, social and educational growth. You'll support young people from a range of backgrounds and work closely with colleagues and partner organisations.
What skills do I need?
Job-specific skills and qualities differ but one thing all social care jobs have in common is they provide physical, emotional and social support to those who need it. To excel during your social care apprenticeship you'll need:
- excellent people skills
- a caring, compassionate nature
- strong communication skills
- attention to detail
- the ability to problem solve and think outside the box
- excellent organisation and time management skills
- the ability to work as part of a team
- admin and IT skills
- the ability to remain calm under pressure
- tact, sensitivity and patience
- the ability to work on your own initiative.
In certain roles, especially those within the community, a second language may be useful. A driving licence is often required for roles such as social work, where you'll make regular home visits and a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check is often an essential requirement when working with children, young people or vulnerable adults.
How much will I be paid?
All apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which as of April 2023 stands at £5.28 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year. Apprentices who have completed their first year and are aged 19 or over are entitled to the NMW for their age range.
You're entitled to at least 20 days' paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.
However, while wages in the social care sector are renowned for being lower than other industries, the majority of employers often pay their apprentices more than the NMW. Some companies also offer benefits such as childcare vouchers, private medical cover, pension contributions and discounted travel schemes.
For example, North Yorkshire Council pay apprentice social workers between £29,269 and £32,076, while charity Change, Grow, Live pay apprentice social workers £26,393 to £30,316.
Once you're fully qualified you can expect your salary to increase in line with your experience.
How do I apply for a social care apprenticeship?
Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a job. Before making your application you'll need to research the organisation thoroughly and make sure you're aware of what the apprenticeship involves.
During your research, find out about application deadlines - some employers operate a specific application window, while others advertise apprenticeship vacancies all year round.
If you're applying for more than one social care apprenticeship, remember to tailor your application to each role.
Apprenticeship applications are normally made online through an application form, but check with the employer as methods can vary. You'll likely need to write a cover letter or supporting statement to go with your application. For inspiration, see our example apprenticeship cover letter.
Depending on the role, certain organisations may ask you to sit situational judgement, numerical and psychometric tests as well as participate in an assessment centre as part of their recruitment process.
Learn more about how to apply for an apprenticeship.
Will I get a job at the end of my apprenticeship?
More often than not yes. After all the time, effort and money that employers invest in their apprentices most want to retain them once they're fully qualified. In fact, in some instances your apprenticeship contract may state that you have to work for your organisation for a fixed number of years post qualification.
However, this isn't always the case and some employers may stipulate that they can't guarantee employment when your apprenticeship comes to an end. Because of this, check your employment prospects with your apprenticeship provider/employer during the application or interview stage and weigh up your options accordingly.