Skills for Care

National Apprenticeship Week: insights from apprenticeship trainers

09 Feb 2022

5 min read

Skills for Care

  • Workforce development
  • Apprenticeships
  • Recruitment
  • Retention

We spoke with two training and apprenticeship providers about the benefits of apprenticeships in social care.

Paragon Skills

Paragon Skills is one of the leading training and apprenticeship providers in the UK. They specialise in the health and social care sector, providing apprenticeship training to a wide range of employer partners and have won several awards for their apprenticeship provision including Care Provider of the Year at the AAC Apprenticeship Awards in 2021. Nader Jaafar speaks to us about the positive impact they’ve seen for employers and learners within the care sector.

Apprenticeships help to create clear pathways for people that are considering starting a career in care or progressing to a higher level within their current care roles. Apprenticeships provide the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that individuals need to be able to provide high-quality care and progress their careers further in the care sector.

Apprenticeships allow people to enter the sector with no experience and progress to more senior roles, whilst learning every step of the way.

Working with larger levy paying organisations, Paragon Skills have been able to unlock funding to support local care employers with apprenticeship training. A key benefit of apprenticeships is how they can particularly support local and rural communities by providing new opportunities in these areas. This can be for young people starting their careers, carers looking to progress, or people who are looking to retrain in a new career.

There are lots of apprenticeship opportunities within the care sector from providing care to supporting with administration and logistics or even hospitality and food production. At Paragon Skills, we offer a one stop shop for care employers’ training needs.

What’s important in terms of apprenticeships within the care sector is that we’re providing a route for workforce development. Apprenticeships are a tried and tested method of recruitment and maintaining staff, at the same time as helping our employer partners with upskilling of their teams and creating better staff morale and a clear route for succession planning.

Being part of a market leading national training provider, I feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives, not just by helping learners to progress in their career but also helping to ensure that high-quality care and support is being provided to those who need it.

Nothing makes us happier and prouder as an organisation than seeing our learners persevere during one of the most difficult times of our lives and achieve with distinctions. We’re so proud that we have a 99% pass rate with 63% of learners achieving a Merit or Distinction.

The popularity of apprenticeships has really grown in recent years. One statistic that I came across recently says that in the 70s there was around 45 apprenticeship routes on offer – that’s across all sectors. Fast forward and there’s now in excess of 650 apprenticeships available which is astonishing.

If these opportunities had been available at the time when I went to university, I would much rather have done an apprenticeship where I’m earning a little bit and getting real-life experience under my belt. Moving forward, I think it’s definitely the way.

Apprenticeships are a great alternative to university as you’re gaining real life work experience at the same time as studying, giving apprentices the knowledge and skills they need to build successful careers at the same time as getting a recognised qualification. Apprenticeships provide a great opportunity where you can learn and earn at the same time.

There’s a lot more opportunities for people from different backgrounds and locations to progress via apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for younger people, we have learners in their 60s and 70s on our programmes, it’s an opportunity to work on your continuous professional development. It’s not just about getting started in your career it can also help you to progress on to the next stages in your career and further levels of qualification.

Social care providers can also use apprenticeships to upskill their existing staff, not just to recruit new staff. Investing in your staff through learning and development will bring new skills to your organisation, boost employee morale and motivation, and can help support staff retention.

I’m very proud to be helping to build the workforce of the future through supporting apprenticeships.

Shipley College

Shipley College is one further education establishment providing apprenticeships in health and social care. Wendy Rowan, who is currently the Director of Part-Time and Apprenticeship Courses at Shipley College and has previous experience managing care homes, tells us how apprenticeships can benefit employers and learners.

When I was managing care homes in the late 1990s, unfortunately apprenticeships weren’t really a thing.

I think apprenticeships are great as part of succession planning. It’s also a good way to address the age imbalance where we have more older people than younger people working in social care.

Apprenticeships allow people to get started in a career in care and progress from their apprenticeship role into long-term roles with the same employer, and for employers it allows them to bring people into the organisation initially as apprentices but who can stay with them for the long-term. It’s a great way to initiate new people into your organisation, especially people who are new to care.

Recruiting new people in a sustainable way through apprenticeships is much more cost-effective than ad-hoc recruitment campaigns, and it’s a more controlled and planned way of ensuring continuity of staffing for you as an employer, and continuity of care for the people you support.

Of course, apprenticeships aren’t just for recruiting new people, they can also be a way to support the continuous professional development of existing staff, encouraging them to feel valued and supported to develop their careers in social care.

Apprenticeships are there for all ages and at a variety of levels from Level 2 to Level 5, each one is there to support career growth and development as individuals take on more responsibility and climb their career ladders.

I have supported a lot of apprentices over the years, many of whom were older apprentices, who had negative experiences at school that had prevented them from doing a course for years as they didn’t have the belief in themselves that they could achieve academically. Having provided them with support, guidance and built their own confidence in their learning many have travelled all the way up their career and learning ladder to Level 5 and are now successful managers.

Whatever journey people are on with their apprenticeship, I’m glad I get to be part of it.

Find more information about apprenticeships on the Skills for Care website.


Interview: why we need to strive for equity, not just equality

Interview: making strategic and sustainable changes to support equality