New academy launched for social workers

  |  Published: Jun 7th 2016
Mike Appleyard, County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing
Mike Appleyard, County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing

A major initiative to attract new social workers is being launched in Bucks in an effort to secure jobs for local people and cut the costs of employing agency staff to cover vital roles.

The Social Work Academy, a high-quality centre of excellence for the training of social workers in the county, will be unveiled on the 16th June  in Aylesbury with the aim of addressing a serious skills shortage.

The academy is a partnership between Buckinghamshire County Council, Buckinghamshire New University and Aylesbury College and will offer a variety of entry routes for training social workers.

As well as increasing recruitment into social work, the academy aims to develop the skills of current social workers; promote research into best practice and improve staff retention rates.

Mike Appleyard, County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We want to make it easier for people to train as social workers, either straight from school or as a career switch. We then want to give them the openings in Bucks so they can find a good job here locally and not have to relocate somewhere else to find work.

“If we can make this work with our education partners, we will be able to significantly reduce our agency costs while at the same time boosting the employment prospects for a large number of people.”

He added:  “It’s well known that, due to the complete withdrawal of Government grant funding announced at the end of 2015, the County Council has faced a severe financial crisis.

“We have done extremely well in dealing with this, but we know we have to cut agency costs, and we have high hopes that the new academy will create the conditions for doing just this by encouraging local people to train for local jobs.”

The Bucks Social Work Academy will provide a one-stop, employer-led, high quality centre of excellence for the training of Social Workers in Buckinghamshire.

The centre will support the training of those currently working in the sector but also promote a careers pathway for school leavers into the profession and provide an entry route for adults wanting a career change. The offer will range from entry level through to Masters, including full, part-time and work-based delivery models.

The Social Work Academy includes a range of courses that those seeking a career in social work can undertake. The courses run at University Campus Aylesbury Vale for adult learners include an Access to Social Work course and the Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care.  Buckinghamshire New University runs a BSc and MSC in Social Work and for 16-18 year olds there is the A-level equivalent BTEC Diploma in Health and Social Care at Aylesbury College.

Professor Rebecca Bunting, Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University, said: “We are a leading university for professional education and work in partnership to understand the needs and shape the future of the professions with which we work. I am delighted that the University is helping to address the skills shortage in Bucks by creating pathways to professional qualifications for future social workers

 “The Social Work Academy cements our role as an anchor institution in the region and builds on our strong partnership with Buckinghamshire County Council. Our academics already share their expertise through master-classes for qualified social workers in Bucks to improve and develop their knowledge and skills. The University is also represented on the county council’s safeguarding boards for adults and children.

“This new initiative will provide exciting opportunities for applied research to shape future practice and in turn benefit the local people cared for by social workers in Bucks.”

Karen Mitchell, Principal and CEO of Aylesbury College, said: “Aylesbury College is delighted to be working in partnership with the Health and Social Care services team at Buckinghamshire County Council and Bucks New University to offer a clear training pathway and skills pipeline into a rewarding career in Social Work.

“By working together we are providing a highly-qualified locally trained workforce that is directly aligned to local needs in regard to social work and providing the highest quality service to communities across Buckinghamshire.”

For further information about training for a career in social work please visit http://www.aylesbury.ac.uk/bucks-social-work-academy

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