Council’s first social work apprentices graduate

North Tyneside Council’s first-ever social work apprentices are taking the next steps in their careers after receiving their degrees.

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Graduating with social work degrees

John Mulroy and Debbie Fishwick are celebrating after officially receiving their social work degrees from the University of Sunderland.

The two, who began their studies in 2019, are the first to complete North Tyneside Council’s apprenticeship programme and are now starting their roles as qualified social workers.

After working in different roles within the Council, they successfully got a place on the programme and over the three-year course, they worked with experienced social workers and managers to get on-the-job experience, alongside attending lectures at Sunderland University.

Before his degree, John was working at North Tyneside Council as a Family Partner in its Early Help Team, and now has a role as a qualified social worker in the council’s Children Services, recently rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Speaking of his experience of the apprenticeship, John said: “I think it is fantastic that North Tyneside Council are investing in their staff and supporting them to achieve a social work degree whilst getting real hands-on experience of the social work profession.

I cannot thank North Tyneside Council enough for providing me the opportunity to pursue my ambitions and for investing in me, as I was in no position to be able to financially manage this.”

Debbie is also celebrating her achievements. She began her career with North Tyneside Council in 2005 as an administrator and is now starting her role as a social worker in Adult Social Care.

She said: “The opportunity for the apprenticeship for me was the perfect way to combine on-the-job learning while gaining the degree at the same time. I had a lot of previous experience working in social care but would have found it difficult to return to University full-time, so the opportunity to earn a wage and gain valuable, on-the-job experience was without doubt the best way for me to develop my career.

I have worked in various teams in North Tyneside during my three-year degree and the support and encouragement I have received have been amazing and invaluable. It has been a fantastic learning opportunity that I am immensely proud of being a part of.”

Councillor Anthony McMullen, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at North Tyneside Council, said: “I’d like to congratulate John and Debbie on their graduation and for the hard work, dedication, and passion they’ve shown throughout their apprenticeship.

Social workers play a vital role in our communities; they are often a lifeline for our residents and provide support when people need it the most. It can be a challenging yet extremely rewarding career, and with their training and knowledge, I’m confident they’ll be a real asset to our social work teams.

This programme is a great opportunity to support our colleagues to progress in their careers and brings forward new talent into social care, which is more important than ever. Their graduation is a testament to the hard work of not only John and Debbie but their peers, managers and academics and I wish them luck as they continue to progress.”

Sarah Beck, Associate Head of the School of Social Sciences, who led the development of the apprenticeship programme at the University of Sunderland said, “It’s been an absolute pleasure to see John and Debbie progress through the programme and develop their knowledge, skills and confidence in professional social work practice. I know they will both be great addition to their respective teams. Their success is due to a lot of hard work on their part, supported by a great partnership between the University and North Tyneside Council.”

The apprenticeship programme is part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to developing its workforce and supporting more people in the social work field.

The fully funded courses run each year and there are currently eight more colleagues completing the course.

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