How to deliver NHS apprenticeships
The NHS is the biggest employer in the UK – so they will play a key role in delivering more apprenticeships.
The Government has committed to increasing the number of apprenticeship starts in England to 3 million by 2020. The apprenticeship funding reforms will help fund the extra training, but it means big changes for NHS Trusts across the country.
The apprenticeship levy is now in force, so all employers with an annual wage bill over £3 million will pay 0.5% of their pay bill into the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) to spend on training. As a major UK employer with over 1.7 million employees, the NHS will have a large total to spend on apprenticeships – but facilitating this huge increase in training will be a challenge.
NHS Trusts have a decision to make.
Trusts can deliver all their apprenticeships in-house, outsource them to training providers or opt for half-and-half. We've examined all three options in detail to find out how they will affect learners, managers and the NHS budget.
1. In-house training
As outlined in the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, large employers – such as the NHS – will have to apply to become an 'employer provider' if they want to deliver over £100K of training to their own staff.
Trusts that choose this route will have more control over the quality of training and the type of training delivered. This will allow Trusts to use apprenticeships in different ways – such as for higher apprenticeships or specialist services – helping them fill the skills gap.
However, there is concern that NHS Trusts may not be able to cope with the increased training capacity. If all training is delivered in-house, Trusts will be responsible for recruiting, training, managing and monitoring apprentices – as well as hiring more staff to deliver the training. As part of the new reforms, all apprentices must pass an end-point assessment (EPA) to complete their course, and Trusts will have to pay for additional re-sits if they fail. So if Trusts struggle to deliver quality training, there will be financial implications – as well as an increase in workload.
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Trusts can outsource their apprenticeship training to training providers. The training provider will support each apprentice through their course until they pass the EPA.
This may seem like an easy option for the NHS, but there are limitations. Trusts would only be able to use their levy to fund standard apprenticeships – such as health and social care, business administration or customer service. They would still use their own education budget, via Health Education England, to pay for specialist training. By outsourcing apprenticeships to private training providers, Trusts would be losing control of training, increasing their overall training spend, and redirecting funds out of the NHS – and potentially out of the public sector all together.
There are also concerns that some providers listed on the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers may not adhere to the high quality assurance standards expected in healthcare institutions. Any decline in training standards could compromise the quality of apprenticeships and impact patients cared for by the NHS.
With this option, Trusts have the flexibility to choose how they deliver each individual apprenticeship. This will require a lot of organisation to manage different training providers, apprenticeship standards, EPA providers and the funding bracket for each.
It's all about planning for the future.
The apprenticeship levy isn't just another complex legislation to get your head around – we promise!
It's a huge opportunity for Trusts to champion apprenticeships and work together to build a strong future workforce. By looking at how skills are distributed, Trusts can assess their skill requirements and use their apprenticeship levy to fund the training they need.
With in-house training, apprentices can learn on-the-ward from fully qualified staff with years of experience – people they know, trust and can ask for guidance. And with a digital portfolio, apprentices can learn wherever they are, build an online portfolio of evidence to prove their skills, and their mentors can assess them as they go along – ensuring every apprentice is on-track for their EPA.
In fact, Trusts can use a digital portfolio to manage the entire assessment process – reducing training costs, improving training quality and increasing the amount of time devoted to patients – ensuring the NHS continues to save lives long into the future.
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.