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Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust

Lincolnshire Community Services NHS Trust is using apprenticeships to equip its workforce with the skills and attitudes needed now and in the future. Lee Gifford, Apprentice Lead at the Trust, says it’s part of the organisation’s ‘grow our own’ strategy. He likes to talk about it in terms of  ‘seeds’ – supporting people to get better educated, engaging with them and developing them so that they can succeed.

The Trust has always offered apprenticeships and wanted to use the Levy to roll out a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) programme to more senior members of the workforce. Maz Fosh, Director of Workforce and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Trust, says CDMAs enable the organisation to grow its talent pipeline and retain staff by improving management and leadership capabilities. “It’s really important that we have skilled managers and capable and credible leaders,” she says.

Lee was the first person to sign up to the CMDA scheme and both he and Maz agree that it’s been a huge success. “It’s been really great to see Lee flourish since doing the OU degree programme,” says Maz. “He’s got a much more rounded view of business and his business acumen is growing. He’s thinking differently about how he goes about investing and engaging in projects.”

Course elements such as the finance module mean that Lee now has a greater understanding of business processes and objectives, boosting his ability to think and talk in business terms and report confidently in board meetings.

Before enrolling on the programme, Lee was concerned about how he would fit in his studies around work and home life as he has a young family. He spoke to an account manager at The Open University about how to balance everything and was reassured that it was possible because of the flexible nature of the learning. Lee says he can scale his learning up or scale down in a week due to what else is going on for him. “What’s unique about The Open University is the ability to sort of dip in and dip out of the modules so if one week I find that I’ve not got the time, due to commitments through work or home, I don’t have to dip in. Of course, I know that I’ve got to be able to catch up on the work but it gives me the ability to go back in and work at my own pace.”

He says the support given by his practice tutor also really helps him keep him motivated and on top of his learning. The tutors are always on hand when he needs them and provide additional material where required.

Connor Roche, account manager at The Open University, agrees with Lee that flexibility is really important, particularly when it comes to the 20% off-the-job learning. “One of the key differentiators with The Open University is that we can actually allocate this time flexibly, so that 20% can be taken across the week, rather than on an allocated day that a lot of traditional universities go with,” he says. “So you can take some study on a Monday and then some more on a Thursday, rather than having the traditional day release.” Connor says the day release model followed by most other providers is a barrier to entry for a lot of employers. The OU’s approach enables learners and employers to structure learning around individual and organisational needs.