70 years of the NHS is definitely something to celebrate! But can it also be said that HR and Training Managers of NHS Trusts are celebrating the Apprenticeship Levy? Check out this week’s blog to find out why Ben Park, Senior Project Support Officer at Health Education England, says they should…
Funding cuts, staff shortages, agency rules, challenging recruitment drives – there’s no doubt that workforce is a top concern for HR and Training Managers of NHS Trusts. Ben Park, Senior Project Support Officer at Health Education England (NE), might just have the answer: The Apprenticeship Levy.
The Apprenticeship Levy came into effect on 6 April 2017 in a bid to engage employers to invest in Apprenticeship Programmes and to raise additional funds to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.
NHS Trusts with a wage bill over £3 million each year (around 120 employees) need to pay the levy – but far from this being another financial challenge, the levy could give trusts the funding they need to:
Effectively manage workforce planning,
Combat staff shortages,
Develop skills for the future, and
Enable social mobility.
Ben Park explains: “By embracing the levy and using it to our advantage, we’ve set up apprenticeship programmes to upskill our clinical workforce in core professional areas including management, leadership and customer service. Apprenticeships support our workforce planning as we can be proactive in our recruitment and mould our future staffing. As we take on apprentices from a range of different sources i.e. current staffing, employability skills programmes etc., we are also able to support and develop our community and fulfil our social mobility aims.”
Here’s Ben’s top three tips to help NHS Trusts get started with apprenticeships.
1. Getting senior management buy in for an apprenticeship programme is the first step.
Look at where you’re spending money on training and qualifications now and where you’ll need to spend in the future. Can you develop apprentices in these areas which could be funded through the levy, as opposed to your training budget.
2. Build a team dedicated to the administration and delivery of the apprenticeships.
Occupationally competent staff and quality systems are most important, together with staff who have a broad knowledge of delivering training i.e. Ofsted, ESFA funding rules etc. and who can keep abreast of any changes. If you don’t want to develop this team inhouse, companies such as Tribal are on hand with experts offering the full range of support and advice in these areas.
3. Don’t be put off by the rules and regulations.
NHS Trusts that provide apprenticeships will need to comply with apprenticeship rules around evidencing learning and financing the programmes. However, don’t let this put you off. There are a wealth of tools available to monitor and evaluate learner performance and outcomes, and help you to easily claim back the funds.
It’s invaluable having a learner management solution to monitor and evaluate all your learners, their progress, and their current or previous status. Issues we used to face year-on-year were primarily implementing ‘paperwork’ changes and updates for example to their individual learner record which you need to submit every month in order to draw down the funding. Our system, Maytas, now handles this for us, automatically and in a fraction of the time.
If you’re thinking of setting up your own apprenticeship programme but don’t know where to start, download our free Apprenticeship Starter Pack with all the essential information on what they are, how you can fund them and what you’ll need to deliver them.