Reimagining apprenticeship delivery with OneFile – NHS & employer edition
Covid-19 has hit sectors hard – but maybe none more so than the NHS. Our healthcare services have been under extreme pressure over the last few months, and many thought training programmes would have to take a backseat to the pandemic. This hasn’t been the case for every trust. There are many NHS trusts out there providing exceptional care to their patients – and training their workforce at the same time. It’s quite an achievement, so we invited Lucy Hunte from HEE to explain how they’ve made their delivery a success in such trying times.
The NHS is the biggest employer in the UK, and a major employer-provider. So we thought it would be fitting to speak to another major employer of apprentices – Sharon Blyfield from Coca-Cola European Partners. Businesses across the country have been hugely affected by Covid-19, so we asked her to share her challenges, learnings and top tips for other employers and providers.
NOTE: Our panel also spoke about what they’re looking for in a delivery partner, so this is a great read for any training providers, colleges and universities looking to engage large levy-paying employers.
The discussion started with a bit of topical news – the recent announcement by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, about the new kickstarter fund. The panel has mixed views about the initiative. Lucy from HEE thinks the apprenticeship incentives are a great way to encourage employers to take on new starts and boost social mobility. Financial support for apprentices over 25 will really encourage employers to upskill their staff and give people the opportunity to progress their career or even complete a degree-level programme.
Sharon from Coca-Cola agreed. Both panelists also expressed their frustrations with the kickstarter traineeships only running for 6 months. They’re concerned that companies may employ a kickstarter to claim the funds, but may not be able to sustain the opportunity in the long term. This could mean that thousands of young people find themselves unemployed again in 6 months.
Lucy Hunte from HEE went on to explain the unique situation NHS trusts have found themselves in. They’ve had to manage their learners on a case-by-case basis. Many apprentices were needed on the frontline, while others had to provide care in different wards. There had to be a discussion between the trust and the training provider to determine whether their new experiences could count towards off-the-job training – as working on a different ward has been a huge learning opportunity for so many trainees. Lucy also had to encourage providers to continue training in their trusts. Many providers assumed the NHS apprentices would be too busy to continue on programme, so they had to step in and explain that this situation is actually a huge learning opportunity for apprentices to showcase their skills.
For the NHS, their main aim was to limit the number of apprentices they put on a break in learning.
“We’ve had to be creative and think about how apprentices can continue to evidence learning in a new situation. We need our apprentices to keep learning, unless there’s no other choice but a break.”
Sharon at Coca-Cola has experienced very different challenges. The main issue with remote delivery was limited technology at some of the colleges and training providers they work with.
“Some providers were very clunky to begin with, but the ones that were already using eportfolios were able to move really quickly.”
At Coca-Cola, they provided staff with laptops and iPads, but some of their providers – especially colleges – took a while to get systems in place to deliver learning remotely. Once they got over the initial 4-6 week hurdle, communication really started to improve.
"For all its negative outcomes, Covid-19 has forced businesses to adapt quickly and invest in the technology they should have been using a long time ago. Digital strategy is now at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”
Lucy agreed – the trusts that used OneFile and other online portfolios really adapted quickly. “Eportfolios have been a gift. If we embrace the technology that’s available and has served us all so well in this time, we won’t need to go back to mass classroom teaching or paper portfolios."
Both Sharon and Lucy said their learners are more engaged in lockdown. At Coca-Cola, some apprentices are missing working in cohorts and the social interaction of group learning. To combat this, Sharon has introduced group virtual sessions and feedback sessions so learners, tutors and providers can reflect on their learning and explain what’s working for them.
As an employer, Sharon needs training providers to provide performance information. Are apprentices turning up to sessions? Are they engaged? How are they progressing? With the right technology, employers can log in to check progression which has been much easier to manage.
Other advice Sharon wanted to share with training providers was to ‘speak in their language’. Rather than talk about modules, relate training to the corporate world by explaining the programme in months. This will help employers get involved and stay engaged.
When asked about the future of delivery after Covid-19, Lucy Hunte said they want to continue to embrace the tech they’re using now. “Our younger learners still need social interaction, but some platforms, like OneFile, have forums and virtual spaces where learners can interact.” Unlike in a physical space, learners from different employers can easily be brought together in a virtual classroom. This gives apprentices the opportunity to meet peers at different companies and learn from their experiences.
Sharon also wants to maintain virtual delivery. The reduction in travel costs has saved them money which they can allocate elsewhere.
“It would be amazing if more providers could adapt to eportfolios. Think about how we can use technology to enhance observations virtually, or even use VR to complete practical assignments remotely. Don’t be limited by what you have today.”
With the right technology in place, employer-providers, training providers and colleges can make remote delivery work for them. If you have tech, you can react, adapt and succeed, but without it, you’ll be left behind.
To hear all the advice our panelists had to share, watch the full webinar here.
Or to find out how you can use OneFile to deliver learning remotely, book a demo with a member of the team.
This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.