To meet the growing workforce shortage, new apprenticeship standards are being designed to ensure the NHS gets the skills it needs, says Karen Woodward
The health and social care sector is facing a number of challenges. While the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary, high staff turnover continues to take its toll on trust finances and employee morale.
Boosting staff retention and maintaining a stream of high quality new recruits is therefore vital to ensuring the sector has the skilled people it needs to continue delivering high quality care.
Many organisations are now choosing to address this challenge by embedding apprenticeships into their recruitment and training processes. Apprenticeships give opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds to get a rewarding career.
We’re delivering a huge reform programme to raise the quality of apprenticeships, with a number of health and care employers leading the design of new apprenticeship standards to ensure the industry gets the skills it needs.
As a result, 11 new high quality apprenticeship standards in health and science have been approved for delivery in the past six months alone.
Eleven new high quality apprenticeship standards in health and science have been approved for delivery in the past six months alone
These standards have been designed by employers themselves to give apprentices both the clinical and non-clinical skills that the healthcare sector needs and range from metrology technician at Level 3 to advanced clinical practitioner at Level 7.
The total number of apprenticeship standards available in health and science now stands at 33, with many more planned to ensure diverse routes into the sector.
Apprentices bring enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas to an organisation, contributing to its development and success, and many healthcare employers have already made apprenticeships a vital part of their strategic plans to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.
Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust has employed over 400 new apprentices this year and Ipswich Hospital has employed over 100.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust introduced apprenticeships in order to combat skills gaps and skills shortages and support the provision of safe, effective and compassionate care through educational excellence.
This year, the trust has a target to take on around 230 apprentices, across 20 apprenticeship standards.
Filling the nursing workforce gap
The shortage of nurses is one significant area in which both the trust and the NHS are experiencing challenges more widely. Having identified nursing as a key skills gap, in 2016, the trust introduced a Level 3 pre-nursing apprenticeship as a clear route to the nursing profession.
In an effort to allow its apprentices to progress their nursing qualifications further, the trust negotiated with the University of Bolton to recognise the apprenticeship in the entry requirements for its nursing degree.
By recruiting local candidates via an apprenticeship and offering the opportunity to continue their learning at university, the trust hopes to develop and retain local talent for the long term.
For those who wish to continue on their apprenticeship journey, a full nursing degree apprenticeship is also now available
For those who wish to continue on their apprenticeship journey, a full nursing degree apprenticeship is also now available, with 260 nurse degree apprentices so far. These numbers are expected to rise as more NHS trusts see their benefits and build apprenticeships into their workforce planning.
And for nurses who want to develop their skills even further, we have created the advanced clinical practitioner apprenticeship – so the career ladder continues.
This means that apprentices can start off at entry level in the NHS, knowing that there is a complete pathway to continue as an apprentice and reach advanced clinical practice in nursing.
To find out how you can benefit from apprentices, visit hireanapprentice.campaign.gov.uk or call 08000 150 600.