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Suffolk developing occupational therapist degree apprenticeships

PUBLISHED: 15:49 26 January 2019

Staff from Suffolk County Council's children's and adult care teams will be the first cohort of social care degree apprentices. Picture: ARCHANT

Staff from Suffolk County Council's children's and adult care teams will be the first cohort of social care degree apprentices. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk will be among the first areas in the country to develop occupational therapist degree apprenticeships.

Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffok County Council cabinet member for adult care, said the degree apprenticeships would give a boost to the care provided. Picture: SCCBeccy Hopfensperger, Suffok County Council cabinet member for adult care, said the degree apprenticeships would give a boost to the care provided. Picture: SCC

It comes as the first social work apprentices are due to start work later this year.

In 2015 the government announced it was rolling out degree apprenticeships in a number of careers, which combined academic study with practical skills of apprenticeships.

The first social work apprentices in Suffolk are due to start work in September, with plans for 12 new apprentices each year.

Now, following the early success of the programme, Suffolk County Council has confirmed it is developing a scheme for occupational therapist degree apprenticeships, and is one of the first authorities in the country to do so.

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said: “Occupational therapists play a vital role in supporting a person to achieve their maximum independence, prevent decline, prevent admission to hospital and repeat crises, as well as supporting discharge from hospital and facilitate more seamless services for people.

“We have seen real challenges across the board in recruiting trained occupational therapists, and with this ground-breaking new initiative, we are working in collaboration with our health colleagues to address these challenges.

“We are working jointly with our colleagues in health to develop our apprenticeship programme.

“There is much national evidence to suggest that retention rates are higher when organisations can ‘grow their own’ talent.”

The new course will provide an alternative route into an occupational health career, with traditional pathways requiring a degree.

It is not yet clear when the scheme will be rolled out.

The 12 social work apprentices already in training comprise internal staff in adult and children’s care services at the council.

Mrs Hopfensperger added: “This will be a real boost to social care in Suffolk as it means we will be able to develop our existing pool of experienced staff, such as family support practitioners, into qualified social workers.

“Our cohorts of apprentice social workers will come with solid experience of direct work with children, families and adults and will be learning the social work profession on-the-job, which will ensure that they are well prepared for practice once qualified.

“For individuals, this route provides career progression opportunities which are funded through the apprenticeship levy and well supported through the apprenticeship programme.”


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