Frequently Asked Questions
Some frequently asked questions to help you discover more about a career in Scotland's social services.
If you can’t find the answer you're looking for you can contact us at [email protected]
Do I need work experience before applying for a job or qualification?
Work experience, paid or voluntary, can help you get a job. It can also improve an application when applying to college and university. We’ve included some more help and ideas about this on the careers website.
Employers may employ you without work experience if you demonstrate strong values and a positive attitude. There’s a great quiz called A Question of Care which you can use to test your values. You can even print off a personal profile to help you prepare for interviews.
Do I have to be 18 to volunteer or work in social services?
No, however some employers may need to employ people who are over 18.
Modern apprenticeships are available for people from age 16.
If you are under 18 and want to volunteer there may be services which are more suitable because there will be staff available to guide you. For example, day care services, activity clubs and sports clubs. We’ve put some links to helpful organisations on the careers website.
What else will help me apply for a job or qualification?
What is the SSSC?
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is the professional regulator for social service workers. We publish Codes of Practice and make sure people on the Register are trusted, skilled and confident.
We know that most social service workers are following the Code of Practice, however if they don’t we may need to investigate and take action. We do this to protect the people who use services.
Go to our main website to find out more.
Can I register with the SSSC?
This will depend on your job, however most people who work in social services (including support workers, supervisors and managers) will register with us. Our website has more information about who can register, the benefits of registration and the responsibilities of registered workers and their employers.
The social service workforce is diverse and employers are looking for people with a range of lived experiences. Whatever your experience, to be on our Register you need to demonstrate that you currently meet the standards of character, conduct and competence necessary to do your job safely and effectively. Go to our website to find out more about Fitness of Practise.
Why do I need a qualification to work in social services?
Achieving a relevant qualification is a condition of registration with the SSSC. Registration and qualifications show the public that care is provided by professionals who are trusted, skilled and confident.
Qualifications are beneficial to workers too and can lead to career development and promotion opportunities.
How long will I get to achieve my qualification?
If you start work without a qualification we will normally ask you to achieve one in the first period of your registration which is five years. This gives you plenty of time to develop your knowledge and skills before you start a qualification.
This does not apply to social workers who must hold an entitling qualification before they register.
I’ve already got a qualification but it’s not one shown on the careers website. Will the SSSC accept it?
If you’re studying in a different country but want to work in Scotland we strongly recommend you get in touch with us to find out if your qualification will be accepted.
If we don’t accept your qualification please be reassured that there are opportunities to gain an accepted qualification while you are working. If your knowledge is up to date it will help you as you complete a Scottish qualification like an SVQ.
Can I get funding for my qualification?
Studying at college
You may not need to pay fees and you might be entitled to other financial assistance to help you study, for example for childcare and travel expenses. The college will discuss this with you when you apply.
Studying in the workplace
You can apply for a part time fee grant from SAAS. If eligible, you can use it towards the cost of an SVQ at SCQF level 7 or above, or an HNC if studied part time.
Employers will often help meet the costs of qualifications. Some employers will mention this on their job adverts.
Our main website has some more information about funding.
Studying as an apprentice
If you apply for a modern apprenticeship vacancy you will not pay towards your qualification.
If you’re already in work you could ask your employer to help you find a modern apprenticeship centre as you may be able to complete your SVQ with them. This would reduce the cost to you or your employer.
There is funding for technical and professional apprenticeships for those who want to develop in their career.
Studying at university
Funding for undergraduate degrees is managed by SAAS. Download and read their funding guide.
If studying social work part time (for example a distance learning route with Robert Gordon University or Open University) you may have fees paid for by your employer, or you could apply for a SAAS part time fee grant.
If studying a postgraduate social work course you may be able to apply for a postgraduate bursary. For further information email: [email protected]
I've just moved to Scotland, can I get funding for a qualification?
If you have recently moved to Scotland and have started a job or apprenticeship in social services you should ask your employer about modern apprenticeship (MA) funding. MA funding is available for anyone with a right to work in Scotland. Eligibility criteria is described by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in their MA Programme Specification.
If you are legally resident in Scotland you can also apply for an Individual Training Account of up to £200.
If you are studying for a qualification at SCQF level 7 or above (at work, college or university) you may be able to access funding from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). To access either full or part time funding you will need to meet the residency requirements. Funding is also available for particular groups of people, including people granted asylum who live in Scotland. You can find out if you meet the requirements for SAAS funding in this guide.
Can I use my past experience towards a new qualification which meets SSSC registration requirements?
If you have a qualification, learning or specific experience relevant to your role you should discuss this with a learning provider who may be able to help you use it as recognition of prior learning (RPL) towards an accepted qualification for SSSC registration. More information is available from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework RPL tool kit.