We know the benefits that apprenticeships can bring to apprentices and businesses alike. They’re one of the best ways to train individuals in their job role and teach them skills that have practical and real-world applications that help both their business and the UK economy grow.

What’s the Healthcare Situation?

Although multiple sectors across the UK are currently experiencing a skills shortage, no sector feels this shortage more keenly than healthcare.

According to Health Education England (HEE), the NHS is currently short of 42,000 staff including nurses, midwives and therapists. Staff shortages are particularly bad in mental health services, with more than 20,000 positions vacant for mental health staff in the English NHS. There is also a demand for more ambulance staff, with ambulance services in England short of almost 1,000 frontline staff.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this staff shortage. Firstly, the UK’s growing ageing population will require more healthcare services, putting more strain on the NHS and private health services. The clinical workforce is also ageing. UK nurses have an average age of 42 and 29% of nurses are aged over 50. When these workers retire, there will be a huge shortage of staff in the industry, which means that the healthcare sector must take action soon to deal with the future loss of these workers.

The current shortage of healthcare staff is already affecting the industry. According to a survey which interviewed more than 1,000 NHS employees, 80% of respondents including nurses, doctors and managers raised concerns about there being an insufficient amount of staff on duty to give patients high-quality care. One senior nurse who worked in a large A&E department said that she had to regularly manage over double the number of patients her department had capacity for, with another midwife adding that “on average, every other shift is short staffed.”

The HEE warns that the health service workforce will need to increase by 190,000 workers by 2027. The industry must be able to cope with this increase in demand for health care staff in the next few years.

So what’s the solution?

How Apprenticeships Can Help

Investing in apprenticeships is a great way to address the staff shortage problem in the healthcare industry and create a dedicated, capable and long-term workforce that will secure the future of the health service. Taking on apprentices also offers organisations a large range of benefits.

As we talked about in a previous blog, apprentices can offer businesses innovative solutions to old problems. They also increase productivity, as research has shown that employers who had an established apprenticeship programme had their productivity improved by 76%. Apprentices can also help decrease staff turnover, as nurturing apprentices throughout their programme can secure their loyalty to their company. Whitbread found that their turnover rates were 15% lower on the apprenticeship level, while nearly three-quarters of their apprentices stayed with the company for more than 12 months, compared to only a quarter of non-apprentices.

The NHS is subject to a public-sector target of 2.3% apprenticeship starts every year, which means that they already offer apprenticeships in a range of levels and careers. There are apprenticeships available across a range of jobs like Ambulance Practitioners, Clinical Healthcare Support, Emergency Care Assistance and many more.

There are many other healthcare apprenticeships out there. Some of the apprenticeships we offer End-Point Assessment for include Adult Care Worker, Healthcare Support Worker and Healthcare Assistant Practitioner. These apprenticeships will be vital in training staff to do the important, everyday work of the health service.

Adult Care Workers help provide support to individuals who face physical, emotional or intellectual challenges so that they can live as safely and independently as possible. Increasing the number of these apprenticeships will provide much needed care to the ageing UK population, as Adult Care Workers can work in residential or nursing homes, day centres, an individual’s own home and more establishments.

Healthcare Support Workers work as part of a team to deliver care to those who need it the most. They have a range of clinical duties including monitoring health conditions and tracking the recovery of their patients. An increase in Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeships will help a large variety of healthcare organisations, as after their programme, apprentices can work in hospitals, community clinics, mental health settings, GP surgeries and more.

Healthcare Assistant Practitioners work at a level above Healthcare Support Workers, and have a more in-depth understanding of the factors that influence health and ill-health. They will have skills and experience in a particular area of clinical practice. Upon completing their apprenticeship, Assistant Practitioners can work in most departments in the NHS. They will also be able to mentor healthcare assistants, trainee assistant practitioners and student nurses and provide support to the next generation of workers. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the healthcare apprenticeships we offer EPA for, click here.

The good news is that there are already a large number of healthcare apprenticeships available. It is now up to healthcare organisations, both public and private, to promote and push the apprenticeships they offer. This way, they can increase their numbers and fill their staff shortage. They will also be rewarded in the long run with a large number of dedicated, quality staff that will help the health service survive for future generations.

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How TQUK Can Help You

The new apprenticeship standards are designed to improve upon what’s gone before and help with the apprentice’s initial journey into their chosen career, before you know it, they’ll be on the road to success.

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