Healthcare apprenticeships: a recipe for success

Across the UK apprenticeships are increasingly being recognised as an invaluable entry-point into the workplace – particularly in the health and social care sector. The National Skills Academy for Health want to encourage employers to consider using apprenticeships to develop their existing staff and fill vacancies

The Quality Principles for NHS Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Ready checklist offer employers an insight into what it takes to achieve high-quality apprenticeship delivery and provide a tool for assessing their readiness. In Tyne and Wear Chainbridge Medical Partnership and Key Training Limited have evidence of real apprenticeship success stories, giving eight young people opportunities in Business Administration since 2013.

Developing a strong partnership

Apprentices at Chainbridge Medical Partnership have reaped the benefits of a highly effective, tri-party working relationship between themselves, their employer and their trainer. Developing this strong partnership has allowed them to hone vital skills such as customer service and dealing with difficult patients.

There are several factors that could have contributed to such a successful track record for Chainbridge including clear understanding of roles and expectations, regular communication, a committed team approach and high-quality training. These aspects all combine to make sure work placements are not wasted opportunities.

Meet the apprentices

Debbie Calder is a former apprentice and now Chainbridge’s practice manager; she understands, first-hand, the advantages a work-based learning route can offer. “Had I not been given an apprenticeship opportunity when I was 16 years of age, I wouldn’t be in the job I have now. I always knew that, if I got to this management level, I would want other young people to have the same opportunity.”

Debbie believes partnership working is key. “It’s absolutely essential that we all work together, all get on and all have a common goal.

“Working alongside Key Training to develop apprentices is very rewarding and we all learn something new with every apprentice we take on. I want them to be happy, because to be happy at your job is just fantastic and that is what we want to achieve.”

Katie Cooper is a current apprentice at Chainbridge and thinks the scheme has been a great success. “Even though I had zero experience when I started at the practice straight from sixth form,” she says, “I was provided with the support and time out of work needed to complete my NVQ – the best support, in work.”

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What has Chainbridge achieved?

Chainbridge Medical Partnership has gone from strength-to-strength and has achieved so much in the last four years. Since 2013, seven trainees have completed apprenticeships at level 2 and 3; they have now gone into full time work in the practice or other areas of the NHS. New recruits are being developed and mentored on the road to becoming part of a motivated and effective workforce that strives to improve quality of care for patients.

Apprentices are constantly supported to build a portfolio of skills and experiences and identify how they want to move their careers forward. They benefit from superior training, endorsed by the Skills for Health Quality Mark. Practice staff benefit from mentoring the apprentices and find it very rewarding to pass on their knowledge and experience.

What have they learned?

Chainbridge and Key Training Limited agree that an important lesson has been to appreciate that all apprentices are different and recognise individual needs and the best way to accommodate these to make for a successful apprenticeship. The Quality Mark, which Key Training holds, has also been an important factor. The mark signals that employers are working with an organisation that has met a recognised, high-quality standard for health-specific training.

Last year the National Skills Academy for Health ran a campaign to promote the benefits of taking on apprenticeships. Their engagement resulted in over 755 young people taking up roles and many business leaders embracing apprenticeship schemes within their organisations. This year they want to encourage employers to place even more apprentices – and your organisation could benefit.

For more information on apprenticeships, and how your organisation or community of employers can start creating new roles, visit: nsahealth.org.uk/apprenticeships

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