Today’s healthcare organisations face unprecedented challenges. In its recent quarterly review, the Kings Fund reported that alongside the financial pressures dominating the news at the moment, healthcare managers are also concerned by issues such as waiting times and staff morale. And yet they are charged with driving up standards in the face of diminishing resources.
Pressure on the front line
Employers are well aware of the relationship between investing in their people and fundamentals like high operational standards, quality of care and staff retention. And nowhere is this more applicable than in the front line of care. Take healthcare workers for example – a review of the nursing labour force undertaken by the RCN in 2015 noted a marked downward trend in the number of support staff, while the Cavendish Review into healthcare assistants and support workers expressed concern about the high levels of staff turnover in both NHS and social care settings. 
So how can employers invest in their front line workers to reverse these trends, when budgets are tight and pressure on time even tighter? The answer may lie in degree apprenticeships – a form of in-work training that’s attracting UK Government investment and catching the eye of savvy HR departments.
How do apprenticeships work?
Designed to bridge the divide between employment and education, apprenticeships enable staff to study at university level while continuing to work. They provide employers with highly skilled staff whose work experience is aligned to organisational priorities and prepare them for further development (for example, a foundation degree gained during an apprenticeship could be the first step to acquiring a professional qualification in nursing).
Employers can use apprenticeships to develop current health care workers or attract new recruits, and to grow talented staff in-house who are ready to take on more challenging roles. They are also an excellent way to motivate and retain staff, and reduce the cost of high staff turnover.
Moreover, funding is available for employers choosing to train their staff in this way, bringing high level education within reach for even the most cash-strapped organisations. New funding arrangements for apprenticeships are coming in April 2017 – which includes a new apprenticeships levy to be paid by all organisations with a pay bill of more than £3m. However, some of this cost can be offset with an allowance to invest in apprenticeships training.
A higher apprenticeship for support staff
Whatever your views are on apprenticeships, it’s difficult to ignore the impact they’re having on the training landscape. Whether healthcare organisations are focusing on workforce planning, care delivery or staff morale, higher apprenticeships in health present a credible solution in helping to address such priorities.
Want to know more? Find out about our Higher Apprenticeship in Health (Assistant Practitioner), which has been designed to help drive up standards of front line of care while providing staff with a recognised academic qualification and minimising time away from the workplace.
And our Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship has been created for staff with people, project or operational responsibilities, so organisations can develop future, new and established managers to deliver long term organisational success and higher quality service.