This National Apprentice Week (5-11 February) Joanna Greenwood, Apprentice Social Worker at Calderdale Council, has shared her experience of being an apprentice:
Embarking on my role as a Social Work Apprentice has been quite a journey. Studying for a social work degree is something I had considered for a couple of years. I started off in safeguarding at a school, and later joined the Family Intervention Team within Calderdale Council to explore more about what social work involves. When I saw the advertisement for the Apprentice Social Worker, I knew this was something I wanted to pursue.
Getting into Leeds Beckett University for the degree course was challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Now, I balance three days a week in a Social Care Team, focusing on areas I’m already familiar with. The other two days I commute to Leeds Beckett University, for around four hours of lectures daily. The rest of my working day involves assignments, research and reading at home.
My university group is a mix of 45-50 people – half students from school, the other half mature apprentices like me. Being part of this group helps me navigate the academic hurdles and we all support each other with looming deadlines.
The first year covers everything from professional and personal development to social work insights, human growth and development, law, and diversity.
Calderdale Council has been very supportive, offering advice and work-shadowing opportunities along the way. It is beneficial having supportive family and friends at home, giving me the space to focus on my studies.
Looking ahead, the second year promises a 70-day placement in adults social care, the opposite to the area you start in. In the third year there is a 100-day placement, back in children’s social work, hopefully an area I would like to try securing a position in at the end of the course!
Sure, it’s a demanding journey, but the real-world experiences, the tight-knit group and all the lessons learned, make this social work apprenticeship a truly enriching experience.