"It's one of the best experiences I have ever had." These are the words of Hattie Wood, a recent graduate from the Step Up to Social Work programme with Worcestershire County Council.
These are the words of Hattie Wood, a recent graduate from the Step Up to Social Work programme with Worcestershire County Council.
Applications are now open for the next intake of social work trainees, which seeks to attract career changers from all walks of life who believe they have what it takes to safeguard and support vulnerable children and adults.
Four positions are available for Worcestershire applicants on the intensive 14-month full time course, which offers trainees hands-on practitioner experience and academic learning.
Applicants, who must have a degree, will receive a bursary for the duration of the course, which leads to a postgraduate diploma in social work.
Hattie, who is from Malvern, previously worked as a Residential Care Worker in Worcestershire seized the exciting opportunity to pursue a change of career after seeing the previous course advertised.
She said: "I heard about the programme and just went on the internet to have a look for myself. I was impressed by what I learned. I started the course in January 2016."
The Step Up to Social Work course includes a full time student placement – in Hattie's case at the University of Birmingham – followed by a three month placement. After further learning she then enjoyed a five-month children's placement.
"It's been really good; the workload has been bearable.
"The teaching at the university was amazing. It's been a lot different to my previous job.
"It's been great to learn new things and new skills."
Thirty seven people were on the course with Hattie, from local authorities across the Midlands.
Since qualifying, Hattie has been offered a job with Worcestershire County Council, joining a workforce of just under 400 social workers based in Adult Services or Children, Families and Communities.
She is just about to start the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) before she becomes a fully qualified social worker. She will work with children and families.
"This has been one of the best experiences of my life," she added. " I've been lucky enough to undergo a career change and I have career progression now which I didn't have previously.
"The course has been intense but I've met lots of nice people and it's something I won't regret doing."
Worcestershire County Council's Director of Children, Families and Communities, Dr Catherine Driscoll, said: "Social work is such a rewarding role as you can make a real difference to the lives of children and families living in Worcestershire.
"The Step Up to Social Work programme gives individuals the opportunity to enjoy academic learning and more importantly, hands on experience.
"I'd urge anyone interested in pursuing an exciting, new challenge, who is interested in social work, to get in touch and see if this course is for you."
Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, said: “Whether you are a recent graduate or someone whose student days are long behind you, this is a fantastic opportunity to begin a new career helping children and families. We want all young people to be able to go as far as their talents will take them, and part of that is making sure childhood is a happy and safe time in their lives.
“I have been inspired by previous graduates of the programme, and I’m sure this year will be no different. I look forward to meeting the next generation of social workers who will be transforming children’s lives.”
The Step Up programme runs every two years, with more students qualifying as social workers each time.
Applications are now open and they close on May 5, for positions starting in January 2018.
For further information and to apply visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/step-up-to-social-work-information-for-applicants