Fast-track programme offers rewarding careers in child and family social work for talented graduates

Graduates and career changers to child and family social work will be given hands-on training to become the next generation of social workers. This is part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs which is protecting, supporting and creating jobs across the country.

Somerset County Council is opening the recruitment round for 58 aspiring social workers across the region to join the 14-month Step Up to Social Work programme, to provide training for hundreds more children and family social workers to support children and families most in need.

The County Council is the lead authority in the south west of England for the programme, which consists of a consortium of ten Local Authority partners*. Of the 58 places being offered across the region, 12 are being offered in Somerset.

This will be the seventh national cohort of Step Up and the fourth for Somerset County Council. Step Up is backed by £25million from the Government to fund 700 places across the country, with students receiving a bursary of £19,833 over the duration of the programme to support them whilst in training.

More than 1,600 students have qualified through the Step Up programme nationally since 2010 (18 with Somerset County Council). Over 600 students nationally are set to complete in the spring (10 with Somerset County Council).

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said:

“This year has demonstrated more than ever the crucial role that social workers play in supporting the most vulnerable children and families in society. This is why we are continuing to focus on recruiting, developing and retaining the best. Training schemes like Step Up are open to recent graduates as well as those who left education some time ago, and they are helping to develop a new generation of talented social work professionals who make such a difference.

Initiatives such as Step Up also demonstrate our dedication to creating jobs and opportunities across the country as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, as well as doing our upmost to protect those whose industries are facing pressure.”

Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, said:

“I have been impressed each year with the quality of the hundreds of graduates who qualify as social workers through the Step Up programme, and encouraged to see them start out on a long term career in social work. Our profession is highly challenging, but highly rewarding, and Step Up is developing a highly skilled workforce ready to make a genuine positive impact on people’s lives.”

This intensive, 14-month, full-time programme is for those with a degree in a subject other than social work and who want to become a social worker. Students can expect to learn through a combination of academic study and real social work experience in a local authority.  On completion, the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work will enable graduates to register and practice as a social worker, making a difference by nurturing relationships with families during difficult times and by protecting children.

The Government is committed to making social work a career that more people can aspire to, and to make it a career that talented people with a sense of purpose can achieve.

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said:

“This announcement adds another string to our bow for the training and development that we offer to Children’s Social Workers here in Somerset.

“Every member of staff in Children’s Social Care benefits from protected time for learning, and numerous training courses and development opportunities. We are making every effort to build a strong and dedicated workforce to help ensure Somerset’s children live safer, happier and healthier lives.”

We are looking for strong graduates who have experience of working with vulnerable children, young people, families or adults and who can demonstrate their maturity and emotional resilience.

In particular, the programme this year continues to encourage more applications from male and BAME candidates, as we aspire to make the programme, and the profile of social work practitioners more diverse and representative of the families and communities being supported.

The Step Up programme runs every two years. Applications will open from 15 February to 7 April 2021, followed by regional assessment centres for candidates successful at the initial application stage. Students can expect to start the programme in January 2022, completing their training in March 2023.

Candidates are eligible to apply if they hold a minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification i.e. a honours degree or a graduate certificate; or a minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a postgraduate qualification (level 7 or above) for example, a Master’s degree or a Postgraduate Certificate/ Postgraduate Diploma, in a discipline other than social work. They should also have GCSEs in English or English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or the new grade 4 and above (or an approved equivalent). Candidates should also be able to demonstrate significant experience of either working or substantial volunteering with vulnerable children, young people and/or families/ carers or adults.


Notes to editors

  • This will be the seventh cohort of the Step Up to Social Work Programme.
  • More information about applying to Step Up to Social Work can be found here:
  • This is part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs which is protecting, supporting and creating jobs across the country.
  • *The ten Local Authorities working in south west of England partnership are (in alphabetical order):
    1. Bath and North East Somerset Council
    2. Bristol City Council
    3. Cornwall Council
    4. Devon County Council
    5. North Somerset Council
    6. Plymouth City Council
    7. Somerset County Council note: lead authority
    8. South Gloucestershire Council
    9. Swindon Borough Council
    10. Torbay Council

For further information, please contact Somerset County Council’s Press Office on 01823 355020 or email

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