Issue - meetings

Social Work Degree Apprentices

Meeting: 16/11/2023 - Executive (Item 539)

539 Social Work Degree Apprentices pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive approved the Council’s Social Worker Apprenticeship Degree which will be procured through the Crown Commercial Services (CCS)Apprenticeship Training Dynamic Marketplace DPS which is compliant with the Public Procurement Regulations 2015 (as amended).

 

 

Reasons for Recommendation:

·        The proposal fully incorporates the Council’s “Grow our Own” strategy and starts to use Apprenticeships in a more strategic means for workforce development, acting to retain and support staff to develop their careers.

·        Securing social worker apprenticeship training will enable us to support opportunities for our care leavers and the recent key policies that have been agreed in this area.

·        In meeting future workforce needs via Apprenticeships programmes we are increasing utilisation of the Apprenticeship Levy Account, helping to safeguarding against potential expiry of funds and ensuring maximisation of spend on programmes that will have return on investment and positive impact for the Council.

·        Social workers are part of a regulated service, and we must therefore plan to ensure we have resilience and availability of staff to provide a compliant service. 

·        It is also recommended that the Crown Commercial Services Apprenticeship Dynamic Purchasing System Apprenticeship route is utilised to run a competitive tendering process to ensure providers bidding have completed base-line pre-checks for quality and achievement rates.  Further questions and requirements specified within the documentation ensure providers bidding can meet specific requirements as set by the organisations enabling tailoring of the apprenticeship programme.

 

Alternative Options Considered: Consideration was given to releasing the opportunity via Lots.  This would have allowed each organisation to set their own questions and criteria however this would not give us the buying power required to be able to stipulate the need for Practice Educators to be supplied, trained or funding towards salaries provided and created a greater risk that each organisation would be working with a different training provider.  This could create issues related to work experience weeks not co-aligning as required to allow the rotation between organisations as currently planned and utilised in previous models which proved beneficial. Based upon this the Lead Social Workers decided they would like to proceed as outlined above.  

 

Minutes:

The Chair invited Cllr Dorothy Maxwell to address the Executive. Cllr Maxwell queried which University would underwrite the social work degrees and questioned the starting level for qualifications and whether a newly qualified social worker would be expected to remain employed at the Council following their qualification. Cllr Maxwell also sought figures for the number of successful trainees since 2019, the number on courses in the current year and the cost of delivering the course.

 

The Chair thanked Cllr Maxwell for her comments before introducing a report that sought approval to make live a tender opportunity valued at £1.23 million for delivery of Social Worker Degree Apprenticeships on behalf of North Northamptonshire Council, West Northamptonshire Council and Northamptonshire Children’s Trust.

 

The Chair stated that every individual undertaking the course since 2019 had passed and stressed the need for Councils to develop their own talent, noting that it was not possible to tie employee to the Council once they had qualified.

 

It was heard that across the period of 2024-2026 there was an aim to enrol 55 members of staff onto the degree apprenticeship, with funding coming from each of the three organisations’ Apprenticeship Levy at a total of £400,000 each, with North Northamptonshire Council being responsible for securing the contract.

 

It was noted that attracting and retaining skilled social workers was a significant challenge across local government and that securing a training regime was an important step towards delivering this. The Chair stated that the Council wished to be an employer of choice, offering a clear career pathway and enabling staff to reach their full potential. The apprenticeship degree could also benefit and support care-leavers.

 

The Chair concluded by noting that the development of new social workers was a positive news story for the Council which was making every effort to maximise use of the Apprenticeship Levy funding.

 

Cllrs Edwards, Howell, Harrison, Brackenbury and Binley all spoke strongly in support of the report, reiterating the need for the Council to develop its own workforce and retain qualified professionals.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

KEY DECISION

 

That the Executive approved the Council’s Social Worker Apprenticeship Degree which will be procured through the Crown Commercial Services (CCS)Apprenticeship Training Dynamic Marketplace DPS which is compliant with the Public Procurement Regulations 2015 (as amended).

 

 

Reasons for Recommendation:

·        The proposal fully incorporates the Council’s “Grow our Own” strategy and starts to use Apprenticeships in a more strategic means for workforce development, acting to retain and support staff to develop their careers.

·        Securing social worker apprenticeship training will enable us to support opportunities for our care leavers and the recent key policies that have been agreed in this area.

·        In meeting future workforce needs via Apprenticeships programmes we are increasing utilisation of the Apprenticeship Levy Account, helping to safeguarding against potential expiry of funds and ensuring maximisation of spend on programmes that will have return on investment and positive impact for the Council.

·        Social workers are part of a regulated service, and we must therefore plan to ensure we  ...  view the full minutes text for item 539