Social work in Manchester is set to get a real boost this week with the start of a brand new social work degree apprenticeship.
The pioneering apprenticeship - the first of its kind in the UK - has been developed by the council in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy.
Each of the Manchester apprentices has been chosen from existing members of Children's and Education Services staff who have all expressed an interest in becoming social workers.
The 30 month apprenticeship course, delivered by Manchester Metropolitan University, will see apprentices spend 20 per cent of their time either in the university or undertaking self-directed study, and the remaining 80 per cent of their time in the workplace.
Apprentices will be given opportunities throughout the course to further develop their knowledge and practise their skills.
Paul Marshall, Strategic Director of Children and Education Services, Manchester City Council, said: "Each of the apprentices has already demonstrated their commitment to working with children and families through the job they do. We wanted to harness this commitment and help those staff who were interested in becoming social workers to develop their skills, knowledge, and practice and work towards a professional social work qualification.
"After completing their course we aim to place the newly qualified social workers in social work teams where they can continue to learn and develop in a supportive environment."
The 11 Manchester apprentices will be part of the degree programme's first cohort of 34 degree apprentices - all drawn from the Greater Manchester area.
Melanie Moorhead, Early Help Practitioner for Children & Families, is one of the 11 Manchester apprentices. She said: "I've always wanted to be a social worker and applied when I was 19 but was told to go away and get some more experience with children and families. It's been a long time coming but now, 22 years later, I'm about to fulfil my dream. I've built up a lot of experience during this time but I'm really looking forward now to learning new things and getting a professional social work qualification."
Led by Ffion Evans and Pauline Black from the Department of Social Care and Social Work at Manchester Metropolitan University, the apprenticeship will be a rigorous and fast-track route to developing registered social workers.
Ffion Evans said: "We're delighted to welcome this first group of Greater Manchester apprentices to Man Met Social Work. The programme builds on the department's pre-established success in supporting experience practitioners to undertake a social work qualification.
"Our apprentices will engage in creative and innovative teaching methods to support their development of intelligent, ethical and value-drive practice, in order to deliver the highest standards of social work to the individuals, families, and communities they work within."
The social worker degree apprenticeship programme blends academic thinking with best on-the-job practice, with plenty of opportunities for apprentices to apply what they have learnt in the classroom to their every-day decision making.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children's Services, Manchester City Council, said: "Investing in our staff and their careers is important to us, and the degree apprenticeship is a great way both to help them develop their skills and confidence, and also to ensure we get the staff we need to help us support all our young people to be the very best they can be."