Are you leaving school and want to know how to get into support work? Maybe you fancy a career change and support work resonates with you? Here is what you need to know to start building your new career.
What do employers want?
The first thing potential employers will be looking for are qualifications and experience, either paid or voluntary.
Preferably, if you have experience, it will be in a related environment – care homes, nurseries, or youth projects, for example.
Most employers require a level 3 qualification, or a Level 2 qualification with relevant experience, such as the following:
What skills do I need?
You will be able to pursue a career as a support worker best if you can demonstrate these core skills:
- A knack for communicating sensitively and effectively with both children and adults
- The ability to build strong relationships with families that might be apprehensive or unfriendly to begin with
- An open-minded, non-judgmental attitude
- An understanding and patient nature, with good listening skills
Some of the skills that you will require are soft skills, which you will be able to develop through exposure to the industry and by taking part in work experience or voluntary work. Others may come naturally, or they may develop while carrying out your duties.
You’ll also need to get a DBS check completed, because you’ll be working with potentially vulnerable individuals.
How can I improve my chances?
The nature of support work means that you’ll spend a lot of time with people who might need extra care. Being knowledgeable or qualified in other areas can make you more desirable and help to progress your career.
For example, you might become a first aider, as you might be out with a client when they have an accident. You could look into learning about food hygiene, as you might find yourself preparing a meal or other foodstuffs. You could make use of learning about the handling and safety of medications.
None of these are essential criteria, but they can help. Don’t worry if you don’t have them, as if they’re a required part of the job there’s a good chance that the employer will provide the necessary training.
Where should I start?
You need to consider the fact that employers put value on experience as well as qualifications. This means that, ideally, you will have both. A great way to get practical, hands-on experience while working towards a recognised qualification is to complete an apprenticeship.
As part of an apprenticeship, you will be able to get stuck in within a role in the industry, in a setting such as a residential care home or nursery. This relevant experience will instantly make you a more desirable candidate, and you’ll gain nationally recognised qualifications as the same time.