The changing face of NHS apprenticeships
2016 was a big year for apprenticeships.
Last year the Government introduced a series of reforms to improve the quality of apprenticeships and encourage employers to train more apprentices.
All employers with a pay bill over £3 million are now required to pay 0.5% of their pay bill towards the apprenticeship levy. The funds will enter the employer's digital apprenticeship account every month, and be topped up 10% by the Government. Employers will then be able to spend this funding on apprenticeship training – but any funds not spent after 24 months will be wiped and assigned elsewhere.
As the UK's largest employer, the NHS will pay £200 million into the apprenticeship levy every year – which is a lot of money to spend on apprenticeships! This gives trusts the opportunity to use apprenticeships to attract recruits, train staff and develop the skilled workforce they need.
'When we first estimated our levy contribution we gasped slightly. When we got together to address it, however, we thought we might be able to turn this into something positive and really start to grow our own workforce.'
Education and Development Advisor, Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust
While apprenticeships won't solve the NHS staffing crisis, individual trusts can use their apprenticeship levy to address staff shortages and skills gaps. To really make a difference with apprenticeships, you need to think about the challenges facing your workforce, and develop an ambitious, wide-reaching strategy to reduce pressure across the service.
You should think about how you can use apprenticeships to train existing staff and attract new recruits. As the nursing bursaries have been cut and replaced with degree-level nursing apprenticeships and the new nursing associate role, apprenticeships offer a clear solution for recruiting and training nurses.
Apprenticeships are now available at all levels – from level 2 health and social care to the new degree-level nursing apprenticeships - so they can be used across the entire healthcare service and beyond. With such a wide variety of apprenticeships available, trusts can create a training strategy that targets skills shortages at all levels. You can also use apprenticeships to accelerate staff progression, from level 2 all the way up to degree-level. This is a great way for learners to progress their career, but also for NHS trusts to upskill existing members of staff to solve their skills shortage.
With the levy now in full force, apprenticeships are more attractive than ever. NHS trusts need to make the most of their levy funds and invest in apprenticeships. After all, if you don't spend your levy, the funds will get wiped from your account – so you've got to use it, or lose it!
To find out how your trust can make the most of the apprenticeship levy, download our infographic.