There were 1.9 million requests for adult social care support received by local authorities in 2020-21, according to NHS Digital. Skills for Care are a strategic work workforce development and planning body for Adult social care in England. Working with employers, government and partners, Skills for Care ensures social care has the right people, skills and support to deliver high quality care. We heard from them about how apprenticeships can be used as an effective tool for recruitment and retention in the adult social care sector.

In this article Skills for Care discusses how apprenticeships can be used as an effective tool for both recruitment and retention in the adult social care sector.

Apprenticeships combine working in a paid role with formal learning.

In adult social care, apprenticeships can cover roles including care worker, a leader in adult care, social worker, registered nurse or nursing associate, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and more.

Many people may associate apprenticeships with young people who are just starting out in their careers; while apprenticeships are a good way to get young people on the career ladder, apprenticeships are also undertaken by people with many years of experience who want to develop their skills or branch out into a new role. Whether it’s new staff or existing staff, embracing apprenticeships can be an effective way for employers to support recruitment and retention.

Using apprenticeships for recruitment

Apprenticeships are a great way to recruit fresh, new talent into social care and to train new-starters to be highly-skilled and competent in their roles.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) data shows that in 2020/21 there were 33,900 new apprenticeships started in adult social care.

Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to attract a diverse range of people to work in adult social care, including younger people and people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds, to help to mould the workforce of the future. According to ESFA’s recent statistics of 2020/21, 17% of all apprenticeship starts in the specialist adult care occupations were people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds compared with 14% of all apprenticeships.

For young people, their proportionate figures for adult social care specialist starts were 3% (16-18 year olds) and 18% (19-24 year olds). This compares with 20% and 29% on average across all sectors.

Following an apprenticeship there may be an opportunity for a provider to permanently employ the apprentice once they’ve completed their qualification, and this means that, as an employer, you already have a strong relationship with the person and they’re already familiar with your organisation, values, and how you work. This can mean they are more likely to stay with you and build their career with you.

Apprenticeships and retention

This brings us on to how apprenticeships can support with retaining staff. Not only can apprenticeships go a long way in finding new staff and encouraging them to stay and build a long career with you, but they can also be a way to develop your existing staff which can improve job satisfaction and as a result support retention.

Our ‘Secrets of success’ research found that learning and development was one of the top reasons cited by employers with high retention rates as to why they have low staff turnover.

Providing apprenticeships for your existing staff can support them in broadening their skill-set and progressing their career journey, from taking on a more senior role with more responsibilities to even changing into a new role – for example a health care assistant may undertake a nursing associate apprenticeship to begin their journey towards a career in nursing.

Apprenticeships offer a wide range of opportunities for social care staff to develop professionally. Additionally, knowing that their employer is happy to invest time and money into developing their skills and supporting their career progression is something which can make staff feel appreciated and recognised for what they do, and this alone can make people feel much happier in their roles meaning they’re more likely to stay and build a lasting and rewarding career in your organisation.

Getting started with apprenticeships

Skills for Care has resources to support social care employers with getting started with apprenticeships.

We have information covering funding options, the different apprenticeships available, and the processes required to recruit for and deliver an apprenticeship programme.

Find out more about adult social care apprenticeships on the Skills for Care website.

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There were 1.9 million requests for adult social care support received by local authorities in 2020-21, according to NHS Digital. We heard from Skills for care about improving recruitment and retention in the social care sector with the use of apprenticeships to help meet the demands for social care requests.

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