There is a growing concern amongst the Health and Social Care Sector that there is an acute shortage of skills and skilled staff at all levels.
A new apprenticeship scheme has been developed within the Shropshire area and could be rolled out country wide if successful. Shropshire, with almost 24,000 people employed across the county, is an area which is experiencing major skills shortages at all levels. This serves as a model across different areas of the country where acute levels of skill shortages are prevalent.
The apprenticeship scheme allows people to enter the health and social care sector progressing through to high level careers such as nursing.
This plan will involve apprentices working towards qualifications such as senior healthcare, with the potential to progress on to healthcare – assistant practitioner level 5 and possibly nursing degree apprenticeships.
There are a variety of career paths available through the apprenticeships offered which include clinical health care, social care, available in residential and domiciliary care settings, dental nursing as well as more specific occupations.
It is not only health care but social care that will benefit from this initiative.
Social care needs people to be trained to work in settings such as adults with learning disabilities, care of the elderly and domiciliary care working to help people to be able to stay in their own homes. These are such important job roles helping people who are disabled or infirm to maintain a good quality of life.
The initiative is not aimed at replacing professionals but rather providing another pathway to achieving a role that requires much needed skills within the sector.
The apprenticeship allows for a seamless vocational route offering a structured career pathway for the apprentice. The vocational route is key where a sector needs skills now and in the future.
The key factor to the apprenticeship is that it allows mentors to pass on life-long knowledge, and for the student to learn from the best possible knowledge source.
The care sector is said to be in crisis. With uncertainty surrounding the continuity of our care services as we know them, this new apprentice initiative could well be a contributing factor in helping to ease the strain on care and health care were posts go unfilled because of a skills shortage.
If successful, this may be of significance in filling the shortfall of staff with skills specific to healthcare and social care.
Employers and organizations will be observant of the success of this new initiative. If successful, more areas of England may engage in this apprenticeship model and find success in filling the skills shortage gap through well trained and knowledgeable apprentices.
Stuart Cook Director Bettal Quality Consultancy