Two apprentices at a desk working

An Apprenticeship is a combination of on and off the job learning and development. As employees, apprentices work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills, getting paid whilst working towards a number of qualifications and gaining experience. 

The learning and development enables apprentices to gain relevant care skills that can include anything from supporting people to get dressed to transporting them to and from a care setting. Apprentices might work directly with people who use services as a care worker, or team leader. Alternatively they may work in a non-direct social care role in catering or administration.

Skills for Care, in partnership with the Department of Health, actively promotes social care Apprenticeship programmes. 

We design the framework for those working in social care and the Skills Funding Agency supports the learning and development with funding.

The system of Apprenticeships is being completely overhauled in England. The system of ‘frameworks’ will be replaced by a system of ‘standards’. The latest information on these changes are available here on the New Apprenticeship Standards page.

Apprenticeships provide benefits for both employers and employees.

88% of employers who employ apprentices believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce (source: National Apprenticeship Service). 

Employers can create and manage tailored Apprenticeship programmes to meet the needs of their business. Apprenticeships are a cost effective and low risk way for employers to grow their workforce and help improve the recruitment and retention of their staff.  

Consilium Research and Consultancy was appointed by Skills for Care  to develop five case studies in order to profile the return on investment / value for money associated with apprenticeships in the adult social care sector and specifically the adult social care pathway of the Health and Social Care Apprenticeship framework.  To view the research report and case studies, please download the documents below:

Return on investment in adult social care Apprenticeships case studies

For apprentices, it gives them a chance to gain work experience, achieve nationally recognised qualifications and earn a wage. If you are thinking of doing an Apprenticeship in social care and want to find out more, click here.

Adult social care workers aged 16 and 17 are allowed to undertake all work tasks suitable for their level of employment.

Age isn't an issue in recruiting workers with the right values who are really motivated to develop long term careers in our sector. Young practitioners can be employed in adult social care with the same levels of support that employers provide for any members of staff.

CQC Chief Executive David Behan states: "CQC supports the view of Skills for Care that 16 and 17 year olds can make a valuable contribution to the adult social care sector. It is vital that when working with this age group providers not only meet the essential standards of safety and quality but follow best practice guidelines, and this guidance from Skills for Care is a welcome addition to that. This will help services to provide safe, quality care and deliver good outcomes for people."

The following guidance will be helpful when employing workers under the age of 18:

Guidance on employing young people

Funding is available for Apprenticeships from the Skills Funding Agency to learning providers.

How much funding is available, is dependent on several factors, including what level of Apprenticeship programme you are running and the age of your apprentices.

Further information regarding what funding is available to learning providers can be found here:

This document provides further information about available funding from the Skills Funding Agency: 

Skills for Care’s Workforce Development Fund (WDF) can be used to help employers fund the delivery of the Intermediate, Advanced level and Higher Apprenticeship in adult social care.

For more information, please download the following documents:

Zero hour contracts will be accepted for Apprenticeships, which is a positive step for domiciliary care workers and those on zero hour contracts. For further information on funding and the conditions regarding zero hours contracts please read paragraph 279 on page 69 of the Skills Funding Agency’s funding rules for 2015-16.

The best people to help employers understand the benefits of Apprenticeships are other employers.

Our network of frontline employer champions have already been very successful in implementing Apprenticeships in their organisation and can share their experience with others.

If you are interested in speaking to an employer champion, or are interested in becoming an employer champion yourself, please visit our employer champion page

Traineeships provide an education and training programme which focuses on the needs of the employer to provide young people with the skills and work experience they will need to find employment in the care sector or to progress onto an Apprenticeship. Traineeships are targeted at 16 – 23 year olds who are not in employment. Young people up to the age of 25 with learning difficulties in academic assessments can also complete a Traineeship

We have produced guidance to support employers, 16-23 year olds and learning providers understand the structure of the Traineeship and the benefits.

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