St Martin’s Group discusses the Importance of Apprenticeships within the NHS

Following the success National Careers Week last week, we sat down with one of our members Jane Hadfield, the National Lead for NHS Apprenticeships at Health Education England. We spoke to her about National Careers Week and the importance of apprenticeships to career pathways within the NHS. 

What did the NHS do during Careers Week?

Throughout the week the NHS supported Trusts throughout the country with career events and social media campaigns.

Events to promote the career pathways within the NHS included a large ‘What Career’ live event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The event was for 15–19-year-olds who are considering different career options, including apprenticeships, training or university.

Sunderland College and Sunderland University visited schools across the North East throughout the week to promote the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship for September 2023 starts.

Moreover, Northumbria NHS Trust promoted careers and apprenticeships throughout the week using social media and local events.

Additionally, the Leicestershire Partnership Trust ran an NHS Careers and Jobs Event at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on the 11th of March, which was a fantastic opportunity to meet people who work for the NHS and other healthcare organisations to learn more about the work they do.

Finally, the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is part of the Newcastle Jobs Fair, with events throughout the year, with local NHS trusts. These are an opportunity for anyone to access national employers face-to-face and directly apply for jobs at all experience levels.

 Why are events like Careers Week important to develop young people’s awareness of career pathways? 

There are many different disciplines in the NHS with over 350 different careers. Building awareness of this is crucial to help young people and people who influence them, such as parents, carers and teachers, have informed conversations about their choices and the opportunities available to them.

Another important element of National Careers Week is speaking to teachers and schools about career pathway opportunities for their students. Many of the team at Health and Education England are enterprise advisors, volunteers and Governors at schools, so are already active in educating teachers on career pathways.

Tell us a bit about the NHS’ current apprenticeship programmes.

From 2016 to the end of 2021, the NHS has achieved over 114,175 cumulative apprenticeship starts. We support employers in the development, implementation, quality delivery and sustainability of apprenticeships. Our particular focus is on developing and implementing apprenticeships and opening new talent pipelines, with opportunities to promote inclusion and widen participation. We are also proud to be above the national average for representation of those from a BAME background.

At least 196 different standards are in use in the NHS. These ranging from clinical patient facing roles such as nursing, allied health professionals, healthcare science and the wider workforce support roles, business, digital, education and engineering.

Apprenticeships play a very important role in developing the NHS workforce of the future. We work to ensure our apprenticeships meet the needs of the NHS and play into workforce plans at every level.

How do apprenticeships support your employees in their career progression?

Apprenticeships are an integral part of progression in the NHS. Our apprenticeship programme enables us to develop new skills to support life-long learning and promote agile skills development in a changing work environment. We see this in health care support workers and staff in entry level roles who advance their careers by progressing into Nursing apprenticeships and associate roles following Recognition of Prior Learning. We also use apprenticeships to develop new skills such as leadership, management and digital skills. Apprenticeships are a way for new starters in the NHS and for existing members of staff to learn on the job, gain a qualification and apply their learning while continuing to earn a salary.

Do you think alternative career pathways like vocational training will continue to grow in popularity? If so, why?

Yes, apprenticeships are set to grow to support employers and lifelong learning. They offer the potential to increase our home-grown future workforce supply whilst simultaneously managing to reduce health inequalities by boosting participation in apprenticeships from underrepresented groups.’