November 2018


"Completing this apprenticeship opened my eyes"

In last month's Warwickshire Means Business we reported that Warwickshire County Council have recruited more than 200 apprentices since 2012, including almost 50 in the current financial year. Among them is Zoe Shephard who joined the council's Children's Social Care team full-time following an apprenticeship. Here she explains how the apprenticeship provided her with a perfect career-pathway.

Zoe, what is your educational background?

After secondary school I moved up to sixth form but soon felt that sixth form was not the choice for me. After a year, I spent a year at college studying aviation as I still wanted to be in some kind of education. I always thought about going to university but was actually put off by the idea when I attended sixth form. This is when I came across the apprenticeship option.

Did you always have an eye on social work as a potential career?

I always was interested in social work, however I never actually thought about it as a possible career. I always thought that I would have to finish sixth form and then continue to university to even get some kind of experience within social work, so as soon as I saw this apprenticeship, I had to apply! 

How did the apprenticeship at the county council come about?

My Mom found me the apprenticeship! She was looking on the Warwickshire County Council website whilst I was at college, as she knew that I wanted to do something different and that I wanted to stay in education. She thought an apprenticeship would benefit me, as I wanted to continue to learn whilst earning some money, as I was eighteen at this point. 

How long was the apprenticeship? What did it entail?

The apprenticeship was for 18 months and entailed shadowing and helping out social workers. This included home visits, minuting meetings, supervising family time, completing direct work with children, covering the duty system, completing life story work, helping with parenting assessments and working with parents and alongside different agencies and professionals.

I attended numerous training days which provided awareness around domestic abuse, children and family benefits, child trafficking and protective behaviours.

I also got to shadow different areas of the council, including the Youth Justice Centre, the Leaving Care Team and MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub).  

Children's Social Care is such important work. An apprenticeship gives you crucial insight into exactly what it entails?

Yes it does! Completing this apprenticeship opened my eyes and

expanded my knowledge about social work and my outlook on different situations. It has also made me want to complete the social work degree in the near future. 

You are now fully employed by the council so felt it was the right career for you?

Yes, I feel that the apprenticeship was right for me. It has given me so many possible opportunities for the future and I am really looking forward to progressing my role with Warwickshire Council. I feel that I was so lucky that this apprenticeship was available and I am very grateful to be given this opportunity. 

What would you say is the value of an apprenticeship? Would you recommend it?

The value of this apprenticeship I think must be the on-the-job experience you get as this helps you to apply the theory and knowledge behind it. This also enables you to observe a wider variety of potential problems which you would not have the opportunity to witness on an academic course.

I would 100% recommended this apprenticeship to anyone who is interested in social work, as this will literally give you the opportunity to experience front-line social work and the challenges and benefits that come with it, whilst working within a supporting and helping team. 


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