Figures that are much bandied about around the Bands 1to4 workforce show that they make up 40% of the workforce, and critically have 60% of patient contact, yet can only access 5% of the training budget. Even if those figures are approximates and not totally accurate it paints a challenging picture. One in which we need to ensure that 5% budget is maximised and stretches as far as possible. Our role in promoting Apprenticeships within the Healthcare sector, be it through our Academies in the North and London, or through the National Skills Academy for Health (NSAH), is one way of doing this. We don’t stop with assisting the Employer with the creation of an Apprenticeship, discussions about funding for and recruiting to those positions. One of our key values is to promote sustainability and legacy development, and in this area we can assist organisations and regions with creation of career progression for the apprentice.
Not only do we play a lead role in setting up and maintaining Healthcare Apprentice Frameworks, we are involved with numerous organisations across the UK, including HEE via the Learning & Education Training Boards (LETBs), setting up apprenticeships within the NHS and also within the wider healthcare sector. For instance across 2010/11 Skills for Health were involved in over 3000 under-24yr old new Apprenticeships in Healthcare, and this number has grown over the past couple of years. They might be in Finance or as we are most recently, starting to engage with Mental Health Trusts in the North and the Midlands helping them to structure their Bands 1to4 workforce with the help of an Apprentice Framework. I referred in an earlier article to silo working – but this is a clear example of collaborative cross organisational working, agreements to allocate a certain number of vacancies to apprentices and people coming from apprenticeships to create a clear pathway. This in itself makes apprenticeships easier to recruit to and helping also to ensure that all Healthcare Support Workers get access to a qualification. For example our work to create a Higher Level Apprenticeship now enables HCSW to move along the path to become an Assistant Practitioner –see the link Higher Apprenticeship. This has both a QCF route and a Foundation Degree route.
To do this we can engage organisationally with individual managers and boards, in Trusts but also in the wider Health community, with the NSAH taking the lead now in the SME arena speaking with GP Practices about local apprentices/cross practices apprentices and potentially using the Apprentice Training Agency model here to support this We also sit on regional representative groups that work under the local Learning and Education Training Councils (LETC) or Workforce Partnership. Often there are specific teams set up to look specifically at Apprenticeships across a particular region, such as the Wider Workforce Development Team in Nottinghamshire and in Derbyshire. Each group will have their own priorities but it all comes back to engagement, increasing numbers, funding and creating sustainability.
There are great stories of Apprenticeships from across the regions I cover -http://em.hee.nhs.uk/apprentices/ for example, others previously highlighted on these pages, and tomorrow we will be having a twitter discussion around recruitment and funding between 1:15 and 1:45, so please join in.