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Social Work

Paper cut out men and women around a globe

The Open University (OU) is one of the largest providers of social work training in the UK, with around 250 graduates every year. Our flexible study arrangements fit in with your work and home life, so you can carry on earning while you learn.

Our curriculum is developed by leading academics and professionals who are actively engaged in social work, ensuring that teaching reflects current priorities. We're also pioneers in working collaboratively with service users, whose voices are heard throughout our learning materials – challenging and enriching the contributions of practitioners and policy makers alike.

Use the menu on the right to find information about our social work qualifications

Study at The Open University

If you are new to studying with The Open University, useful information is available on our What it's like to study page.



  •  Apprenticeship launch comes after the Institute for Apprenticeships signed off the new standard in November
  •  Launch follows year-long project to investigate ways to increase diversity and retention in the profession
  • The Open University is offering a free webinar as an introduction to the apprenticeship and to answer employers’ questions

The Open University has launched its Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship, supporting more people into higher education and provides a new, flexible route into becoming a social worker.

With 25 years experience of delivering work-based training in social work, The Open University recently completed a year long study into improving retention and diversity in the sector – ‘Social Work for Everyone’ – funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (now Office for Students).

The project highlighted the under-representation of men, disabled and BME workers, noting that the new degree apprenticeship qualification will provide an important sixth route to becoming a social worker. Not only can the new apprenticeship be used to develop existing support workers, increasing staff retention by offering clearly structured career progression, it can also be used to attract new people, who are currently underrepresented, into the workforce.

The apprenticeship learners will be supported by qualified social workers throughout, and the flexibility of The Open University's delivery also helps to meet the needs of diverse employees, allowing them to fit training around shift patterns and other commitments.

If you are an employer who may be interested in supporting staff on to our Social Work Degree Apprenticeships, we would love to hear from you!  To get in touch, call our Business Development Unit on 0300 303 0122 or email 



Social Work enquiries

phone: +44(0)1908 654229

phone: +44(0)131 226 3851

phone: +44(0)29 2026 2728

phone: +44(0)28 9024 5025

Providing sponsorship to staff enables them to develop a career pathway. We find that this definitely improves retention; in the 10+ years that we've been offering the OU degree programme, only one sponsored social worker has left - to take up a senior promoted post. Among former students, two are now team managers, one has recently begun studying for the Mental Health Officer Award (MHOA), and several are involved in practice learning placements with roles in mentoring and providing leadership input for the next generation of trainees.

Karen O'Donnell, Workforce Development Officer, Angus Council