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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Patrick O’Donovan TD, recently announced the launch of two ground breaking 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 program 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 program 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 the launch 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.”

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.”

Denis Leamy, Chief Executive of Cork ETB stated:
“The development of this new tertiary degree programme by UCC in collaboration with Cork Education and Training Board is extremely significant and places a spotlight on the capacity of Higher and Further Education, working together, to deliver new and attractive opportunities to learners that will prepare them for rewarding careers on their graduation. We in Cork ETB, with our colleagues in UCC, are working on a range of initiatives and proposals that will be part of the Tertiary Programme initiative in the coming years, supporting lives, communities and the economy in Cork and beyond.”