Nov 16

If you're good enough…

Posted: 18 November 2016

apprenticeshipsI’m sure I’m not the only person to have been mightily impressed by the performance of Haseeb Hameed the young England opening batter against India, the number one cricket test playing nation. There was a lot of talk in the press before the game about whether his age and inexperience would go against him. That talk soon quietened down when he started to apply himself and use his skills to blunt the world class Indian bowling.

Yes, you may know where I’m going here. Within social care a similar argument bubbles along that 16-19 year olds are not old enough to work in social care.

Skills for Care reports 78,100 level 2 and 3 starts in Health and Social Care Apprenticeships for 2014-15 - only 6% of them were under 19. Some of the reasons for this we understand to be:

  • unwillingness of employers to take on such young people - “don’t think they’re mature enough or work-ready” or “our insurers prevent us from taking on such young people”
  • schools have traditionally not been incentivised to point young people down the Apprenticeship route because they lose money if the child chooses to go elsewhere. This is changing with the obligation on them to provide careers advice including the Apprenticeships option but this will be a slow turnaround
  • minimum maths and English requirements - either learning providers won’t take the risk of recruiting youngsters who still need to achieve their level 1 maths and English or the learners themselves are put off from having to retake them.

To counter this our progression pilot programme and evidence from our Accolades finalists has shown that employers who take that leap of faith and recruit youngsters are usually rewarded with a refreshment of ideas and morale in the workforce and praise from people who use the service - just like the England selectors did with Haseeb.

aVida Care was keen to encourage young people to consider a career in social care, but was concerned about doing this in a domiciliary care setting. They have now successfully embedded 16-18 year olds into their workforce structure.

Here are aVida’s key tips on employing younger apprentices.

  • Be aware of the perceptions of CQC; service users and other staff when employing younger apprentices.
  • In the eyes of the law 16-18 year olds are still  children.
  • Adopt university policies - this includes getting parental consent and signature to agree to supporting them through the programme.
  • Only send under 18s on double handed calls until they are signed off as competent - at 18 years old aVida allows them to take on the full role.
  • Review your lone worker policy.
  • Consider public transport for non-drivers.
  • Do not underestimate the level of support 16-18 year olds require and do not make assumptions about their life experiences.
  • Identify mentors who will not judge them.
  • Recognise what they are exposed to and how it might affect them e.g. death of a client.

Our guidance confirms that 16 - 18 year old practitioners can be employed in adult social care. Age isn't an issue in recruiting workers with the right values who are really motivated to develop long term careers in our sector.