05th June 2015 Written by Candace Miller

app blog jun15The work-based training programme fully equips new recruits with the healthcare skills they need.

Apprenticeships provide a really robust mechanism to make sure you’ve got a strong pipeline of staff coming into your support workforce. They offer a well-defined work-based training programme that will fully equip new recruits with the skills they need to be effective in employment.

Apprenticeships also enable employers to develop existing support workers – for example, those without qualifications at level two or level three – giving them access to the support and training they need to progress their career.

One of the reasons why apprenticeships are gaining in popularity with employers looking to attract new talent and develop existing staff is the wide range of roles they span.

Apprenticeship frameworks are available for many clinical roles – everything from pathology support and pharmacy services, to assistant practitioners and dental nursing. There are also many non-clinical apprenticeships relevant to the health sector, including business and administration, customer service, IT, catering, accounting and facilities management.

It makes sense to think about the vacancies you have, or are likely to have, and consider them actively as opportunities to recruit on an apprenticeship basis - a chance to “grow your own staff”.

The first step is to select the right apprenticeship framework to fit the needs of your vacant role. Many frameworks have a degree of flexibility built in to enable you match the skill needs of the role. As we move towards further integration of health and social care, the National Skills Academy for Health is increasingly working with employers who are developing rotational apprenticeship programmes. These allow young people coming in to the workplace to experience and develop skills in a range of health and care settings. Forward thinking employers are using this route to develop a truly flexible workforce, able to provide high quality services wherever healthcare is needed.

While some large healthcare employers have the capability to deliver apprenticeship training themselves, most organisations work in partnership with external training providers. A good training provider will help you select the most appropriate apprenticeship framework, advise on whether you are eligible for a government grant to cover or contribute to training costs and advertise your vacancy on the Apprenticeship Vacancies website.

Whether you run the programme yourself or use an external provider, quality is key. So when selecting a training organisation, we recommend you check to see if they hold the Skills for Health quality mark which is administered by the National Skills Academy for Health. The quality mark is available to training departments within trusts and other healthcare providers and to training organisations. The quality mark endorses the quality of training and learning delivery from a healthcare perspective, and includes consideration of care certificate training, so it uniquely helps give health employers greater confidence when making an investment in training. If a provider doesn’t hold the quality mark, ask why not, and look on the Ofsted website to check how they have been graded against national education quality standards, which they need to meet to deliver publicly funded training. We always recommend that you work with providers whose Ofsted grading is good or outstanding.

Take a look on the Academy website to find out more about our apprenticeship services and how to gain the maximum benefit for your organisation. Further practical information and advice on apprenticeships and a range of other skills issues is also available free of charge to healthcare employers through our online employer partners’ knowledge exchange.

From feedback given to the Academy, we know that many small and medium sized healthcare employers can struggle with what they see as the complexity and workload associated with taking on an apprentice. Other organisations may be uncertain of the value of apprenticeships or are unable to employ an apprentice directly, for whatever reason. In these situations, additional support is available through the Academy’s apprenticeship training agency (ATA).

Through the ATA, we can reduce that complexity and workload. The ATA employs the apprentice on your behalf, working with you to understand your requirements, agree the apprentice’s role and select the most appropriate apprenticeship framework to follow. We help you to shortlist and interview the best applicants for your needs and will also help you to select the right local training provider for you. We can help you access funding to cover or contribute to training costs and, of course, as the apprentice is employed by the ATA, we take care of payroll/HR administration and performance management, so you don’t have to.

However you approach taking on an apprentice, the right support makes the process very straightforward and brings benefits to both the apprentice and employer. In recent studies by the British Chambers of Commerce and the Centre for Economic and Business Research, apprentice employers report a range of benefits, including greater productivity, increased employee satisfaction, lower recruitment costs and reduced staff turnover.

And, with increasing pressures on service delivery and workforce capacity, engaging with the apprenticeship system offers a practical and logical approach to future-proof your workforce for the challenges ahead.