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Skills for Care: a unique and enriching graduate scheme

3 November 2015
  • Organisations we regulate

Public Engagement and Insight Officer Laura Crehan first came to CQC through a graduate programme run by Skills for Care. Here she shares some of the highlights of the scheme and talks about the opportunities it offered.

I have always had a passion for adult social care and spent time working and volunteering in our sector alongside my Psychology degree studies at Aston University. I joined the Care Quality Commission in October 2014 through the Skills for Care Graduate Management Training Scheme. I was one of 12 graduates within the fifth cohort of the graduate scheme and we have all enjoyed a unique and inspiring, challenging and rewarding opportunity through the scheme.

Our graduate scheme consisted of a year's work placement within one adult social care setting. Many organisations applied to host a graduate and our placement settings varied from charity settings and not-for-profit organisations, supported living services, residential care to large care providers, and of course the Care Quality Commission, where I was delighted to be placed.

Working towards an Institute of Leadership and Management Level 4 certificate and a qualification specifically relating to leadership and management in social care, we had regular training days throughout the year. Our training including an emphasis on reflecting on our progress and performance, and completing action learning sets in groups. I would strongly recommend these practices as a means to learn more about yourself and the way you work, and developing a further appreciation of the challenges and goals that you have in common with your peers.

We found ourselves to be a fairly small group in comparison to other graduate schemes such as Step Up to Social Work and Frontline, where there can be over 100 places available with placements stretching over two years. Yet the size of our cohort led to a close-knit group of peers with a determination to raise the profile of social care, to champion our sector and the voices of people using services. Our training sessions regularly featured inspired debates about our sector and ongoing support and respect for one another's learning and development.

The scheme offers a steep learning curve and a platform upon which to channel our passion and enthusiasm for the sector. I have developed skills and confidence and have left the scheme equipped with a clearer understanding of adult social care, as well as my ambitions for our sector and myself. Graduate schemes provide an excellent opportunity for nurturing a real interest that students have in supporting and empowering people through social care and social work. The scheme was an exciting gateway into the sector and a useful way of establishing a career pathway within it.

I was struck by the learning culture at CQC and the many opportunities presented to me to work closely with a wide range of colleagues and teams, to learn about how we fulfil our role and offer contributions to our ideas and efforts towards continuously improving. Highlights of the scheme included meeting people who use services and providers out on inspection and at our engagement events. I have since joined CQC as a Public Engagement and Insight Officer and am enjoying being able to continue to do this, to put my learning to great use and continue to develop my skills and experience within our sector.

Last updated:
29 May 2017