By 2036, over 20% of Hertfordshire residents are expected to be aged 65 or over. The growth in the elderly population, combined with increasingly complex care needs, calls for an urgent upturn in the training and recruitment of staff in the adult social care and nursing sectors.

The Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCPA) estimates a need to recruit 4,000 additional paid carers per year within the county alone. Therein lies the challenge, with Hertfordshire’s low unemployment rate creating barriers for employers looking to recruit the best staff for their business.

To help meet recruitment needs, HCPA and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) hosted ‘Creative Care Career Pathways’: a workshop delivering essential information on how apprenticeships can be used to attract and retain a skilled and motivated workforce. Hosted as part of HCPA and Hertfordshire County Council's Good Care Month campaign, the workshop has resulted in over 50% of delegates expressing a desire to hire an apprentice or start an apprenticeship programme to boost their business.

 

Meet the speakers 

Delegates heard from a range of speakers including Gareth Dace, Senior Enterprise Coordinator at Hertfordshire LEP, who contextualised Hertfordshire’s labour market against the national picture, and Iain MacBeath, Director of Adult Social Care at Hertfordshire County Council, who set out the key challenges and opportunities facing the county’s care sector.

Iain said: “With a growing ageing population and a surplus of Hertfordshire residents commuting out of the county than the number commuting in, the care industry must find novel ways to ease the recruitment challenge it currently faces. Apprenticeships offer a valuable solution, providing progression opportunities and financial stability to those looking for work, a career change or to upskill while on the job, and flexibility for employers seeking the talent needed to help their business grow.”

Speakers Stephanie Wallis, Head of Sales at Hart Learning & Development, and Cathryn Henry, Senior Business Development Coordinator at University of Hertfordshire, explained how the apprenticeship pathway, from intermediate to degree level, can help employers make a career in care more attractive by offering clearly defined career progression and a chance to earn while learning on the job. With most training now delivered via webinars, employers can also use their apprenticeship levy to upskill existing staff with minimal disruption to their business.

Delegates also heard from Clare Ding, Apprenticeship Support Coordinator at Quantum Care, and Annie Fitzgerald, Founder of Care 4 Freedom, on the success of their well-established apprenticeship programmes and the associated advantages, which include the ability to upskill new and existing staff, fast-track their progression, tailor training to the specific needs of the organisation, and ultimately improve employee retention.

Apprentices from their programmes, Keith Arnold from Quantum Care, and Lauren Tiller, Deputy Manager at Care 4 Freedom, explained why they pursued an apprenticeship over alternative routes, citing the opportunity to gain qualifications without student debt, take on real responsibility, facilitate a career change, and secure permanent employment within the organisation.

Resources for employers and apprentices

Sharon Davies, Chief Executive of HCPA, introduced the newly launched Hertfordshire Care Academy; an online portal and training passport that aims to ensure Hertfordshire’s care practitioner workforce is trained to a professional, best practice standard across the board. By enrolling staff to the academy, employers can help them evidence the qualifications they have earned and unlock a range of tiered benefits from high street restaurants and retailers.

Sharon said: “The delivery of good care is dependent on a comprehensive programme of training. Our Care Academy enables staff to record their professional and personal development, and employers to better take stock of the qualifications of their workforce, helping identify areas for improvement and ultimately set the standard for professionalism. We encourage all those who work in the care sector to join the Academy and help raise the bar for care delivery in Hertfordshire.”

Hertfordshire LEP will also soon be launching a Hertfordshire Skills & Apprenticeship Information Portal to help demystify the process of hiring an apprentice for employers, and help educate young people, schools and parents on the wide range of career pathways available. The portal is expected to be launched in June 2019.

Norman Jennings, Operations Director at Hertfordshire LEP said: “Our new Skills & Apprenticeship Portal will be a one-stop resource for employers and learners looking to reap the rewards that apprenticeships offer, helping make the recruitment process as seamless and straightforward as possible. Apprenticeships have been gaining popularity in recent years and we hope to support this growth trajectory by expanding the range of opportunities available across the county’s key growth sectors.”

Ongoing funding opportunities including the Department of Health and Social Care’s Workforce Development Fund, which allows employers to claim back a contribution of the apprenticeship cost to support the ongoing professional development of staff, as well as grants of up to £1500 from the Hertfordshire Growth Hub until March 2019 for SMEs who have not had an apprentice over the past year.

Interested in starting an apprenticeship programme?

As a result of the workshop, 27 Hertfordshire employers are now considering hiring an apprentice within their business. If your organisation is interested in hiring an apprentice or would like to learn more about funding opportunities, HCPA is on hand to help you. Get in touch at contact@hcpa.info.

Hertfordshire Growth Hub's Skills Brokerage Service also provides free and impartial support and funding opportunities for SMEs from all sectors looking to hire an apprentice or start an apprenticeship programme. Visit the Skills Brokerage Service website.