Social Guidance and Services
Many students at Exeter are interested in pursuing a career in this sector and are often attracted to it as a result of previous voluntary or community work. The sector itself is very large, employing more than 1.5 million people across the UK and offers a wide variety of options including social work, counselling, advice and guidance, and youth and community work. Job roles are very varied, and each have their own requirements in terms of required work experience and for some, qualifications. To learn more about the wide range of jobs roles within this sector visit the Prospects website.
Some graduates enter this sector to help support a particular group in society such as children, refugees, the elderly, those with mental ill health or alcohol or drug dependency. Whereas other graduates are motivated more by a cause they feel passionately about such as education, housing or prisoner rehabilitation.
The main graduate employers in this sector are charities and non-profit organisations, local authorities, the NHS, HM Prison and Probation Service and residential and non-residential care organisations. A range of social and pastoral care roles are also found within schools, colleges and universities.
Career Zone Employability Schemes
These employability schemes can help increase your work experience and networks in this area.
- Career Zone Internship schemes – internships can be extremely useful, so try and get relevant vacation work or placements.
- Ask an Alum – a fuss-free way to connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask careers questions.
- Career Mentor Scheme – a popular employability scheme which matches a student or graduate with an experienced professional, for sector insight and one-to-one careers advice and guidance, over a 6-month period.
- Professional Pathways – a suite of sector specific training courses and paid week-long internships that take place in June.
Watch the following videos to get a feel for some of the roles within the sector:
- Social Care and Childcare Industry Insight – series of videos exploring roles in the social care and childcare sector.
- Social work and counselling – real-life career videos, advice and information to inspire your career.
If you would like to do further research into this sector, the following webpages may be useful:
- Overview of the Social Care sector – covers what it is like working in the sector, provides a list of the main employers and outlines current issues.
- Graduate jobs in Social Care – research roles in the sector using these job profiles. Each one includes information covering key responsibilities, necessary qualifications and skills, how to find relevant work experience and career prospects. Includes Social Worker, Counsellor, Probation Officer, Educational Psychologist and many more.
- Think Care Careers – explore job roles in social care, including management positions.
- Working with children – find out more about roles that involve working with children.
To see if there are any Exeter alumni working in this sector that you can get in touch with, go to the LinkedIn Alumni tool.
Internships and work experience opportunities in the sector can be difficult to find, often due to the sensitive nature of the work. As many charities and voluntary sector organisations are heavily supported by volunteers, finding experience via a volunteer role is usually the best way to get experience. Many charities have details of volunteering roles on their website. If you are unsure if there are volunteer opportunities available, it is a good idea to enquire directly with the charity. Search for charities online by using key words e.g. 'homeless charity Devon' or browse through over 160,000 charities listed in the Charity Choice database.
- Community Volunteering – find volunteer opportunities via the Guild.
- Do-It and vinspired – volunteering opportunities in your local area.
- Citizens Advice Bureau – charity offering volunteer roles across the UK.
- Choices Consultancy Service – volunteering opportunities in Devon prisons.
- Transform Drugs Policy – volunteering with organisation fighting failings in drug policy.
For general information about finding graduate opportunities, please visit our Graduate Jobs page, and for a list of general job search engines please visit our general job sources page. You could also have a look at Handshake, our vacancy database with employers who are targeting University of Exeter students.
For sector specific job listings, the following resources may be particularly helpful:
- BASW Jobs – social work jobs across the UK.
- Centre for Social Justice – Public policy and advocacy think tank jobs.
- Community Care – social care and social work jobs.
- Charity Job – charity sector job site (click ‘Browse jobs’ to search by cause e.g. Social Welfare, Youth/Children).
- Children & Young People Now Jobs – specialist job site for children’s services professionals.
- Jobsgopublic and Local Government Jobs – search public sector jobs (browse by job area to find social care roles).
- NHS Jobs – search and apply for NHS jobs.
- The Big Issue – jobs in social care, youth work and housing.
- Jobs in Advice – jobs in the advice sector across the UK.
- Times Educational Supplement Jobs and Jobs.ac.uk – search education jobs in the UK and internationally.
- Compass Jobs Fairs – runs job fairs and publishes an annual guide to social work and social care.
- BACP Jobs Online – search counselling and psychotherapy roles.
- Inside Housing – search jobs in the housing and residential sector.
- HM Prison and Probation Service Jobs – advertises prison and probation jobs across the UK.
As jobs are not always advertised, it can be useful to develop your networking skills and also apply speculatively.
There are only a small number of graduate schemes in this field, and most graduates enter the profession through a paid job. Here are the schemes available within the sector:
- Think Ahead – a two-year programme for graduates who want to become mental health social workers.
- Frontline – a two-year programme for graduates wishing to become children’s social workers.
Professional bodies, associations and societies are a great source of information and advice. They exist to promote and further a career and the people who practice in it. Being a member of a professional body is voluntary however, it can be valuable for developing networks, continuing your professional development, and generally keeping up to date with what's happening in the sector. Many offer student memberships for free or a very low rate.
Social Work and Child Care
- British Association of Social Workers (BASW) – professional membership organisation for social work.
- Health and Care Professions Council – regulator of the social work profession in England.
- The Care Quality Commission – independent regulator of health and social care in England.
- Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years – provide training, practical help and advice to practitioners.
Counselling and Psychotherapy
- British Psychological Society – the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK. Range of informative resources and guides on psychology-related careers.
- UK Council for Psychotherapists (UKCP) – professional body for psychotherapists.
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK.
- Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) – trade union and professional association for Educational Psychologists in the UK.
- The Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) – professional body for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists in the UK.
- British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP) – lead organisation for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the UK and Ireland.
- British Association of Play Therapists – professional body for Play Therapists in the UK.
- Career Development Institute (CDI)– professional body for people working in career education, career information, advice and guidance; career coaching, career consultancy and career management.
- The Community Chaplaincy Association – supports the work of community chaplains dealing with those due for release from prison and ex-offenders.
- Association for Coaching (AC) – promotes best practice and raises the awareness and standards of coaching worldwide.
Given the range of roles within social care, entry requirements vary considerably, and further qualifications may be necessary. A few jobs within this sector that require a relevant qualification include working as a Social Worker, Counselling Psychologist and Play Therapist. However, there are of roles within social care that do not require a relevant qualification including working as an advice worker and community arts, development or education officer/worker. For these sorts of roles, relevant experience is often more important than a holding a relevant qualification. Further information about entry points including required postgraduate training and professional development can be found on the relevant Social Care job profiles on the Prospects website.
If you would like to pursue postgraduate study before entering this sector, please visit our Postgraduate Study information page for more information about choosing further study.