Skip to main content

Latest News

Minister O’Donovan announces launch of new educational pathways in social work

24 May 2024
Pictured left to right: Professor Stephen Byrne, Deputy President and Registrar, UCC; Minister Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State for Disability in the Department of Health and Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; and Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science. Image: Provision
  • A new Apprenticeship in Social Work and Social Work Tertiary Degree announced.
  • UCC partners with HSE, TUSLA and Cork College of Further Education.
  • The pathways aim to open the profession to a diverse range of people and combat recruitment challenges.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, today announced the launch of two groundbreaking pathways in social work education. These new initiatives aim to make the profession more accessible and diverse, offering flexible and practical routes for aspiring social workers.

These new pathways consist of:

  1.  An innovative “earn while you learn” apprenticeship in social work, allowing participants to gain invaluable on-the-job experience while earning a salary. The programme leads to a Level 9 qualification in Social Work, equipping graduates with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for their careers.
  2. A social work tertiary degree pathway, co-delivered by University College Cork and Cork Education and Training Board. This programme offers a new route to obtaining an undergraduate degree in Social Work outside the CAO system, making it more accessible for a wider range of students.

These new pathways are a significant step forward in opening up the social work profession, making it more inclusive and reflective of the diverse society it serves.

Speaking at TUSLA's offices in Cork, Minister O’Donovan said: "These exciting new pathways will allow a whole new cohort of learners to access social work training, opening the profession to a more diverse range of people and helping to combat the recruitment challenges facing employers of social workers.”

Social workers work across a wide variety of public services, including services in disability, health, mental health, children protection and welfare, criminal justice and housing service. These new pathways will allow employers access to a new and diverse talent pool of employees who are committed to their work and the sector.

Welcoming the creation of this route, Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD said: “A strong pipeline of social workers is crucial for sustaining the delivery of our health and welfare services, and these new pathways will undoubtedly bolster the numbers of people working in this space. As the Minister for Disability, I’ve seen first-hand the impact social workers have in both advocating for and empowering people with disabilities, so this is a most welcome development.”

Professor Stephen Byrne, Deputy President and Registrar, UCC said: “UCC is delighted to be part of the first ever Apprenticeship and Tertiary Pathway into Social Work which are designed to meet the needs of the social work sector and open up opportunities for people who want to pursue a career in social work throughout Ireland.”

Kate Duggan, CEO of TUSLA, said: “Social workers are crucial to our organisation and we are delighted to offer 25 apprenticeships that will allow the successful applicants to be fully employed by TUSLA, and receive invaluable on-the-job experience and mentoring, while pursuing a Master of Social Work or Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work Studies.”

Bernard Gloster, HSE CEO, said “I would encourage as many people as possible to think about a career in social work.  You’ll join approx. 1700 social workers in the HSE who work in multidisciplinary teams in primary care, mental health services, disability, older person services and in our hospitals.”

Applications now open

Registrations for the Apprenticeship in Social Work are now underway with information available on UCC’s website.

Applications for the Social Work Tertiary Degree are now open, learn more here.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF