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GUEST COLUMN: Overcome staff shortages with these steps to success

Adrian Grove cropped

Adrian Grove, Business Development Director at Qube Learning, asks how health and social care employers can boost recruitment via traineeships, apprenticeships, and e-learning.

Widespread burnout, vaccination requirements, Brexit, and limited funding has left the UK facing a significant staffing crisis in health and social care. Dwindling staff numbers are reducing agency offerings, and as the government announced that it will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for frontline home care staff from April 2022, the Homecare Association warned for some members this will reduce rosters by almost a quarter.

However, nearly two thirds of young people aged 18-34 in England are more likely to consider applying for a job in adult social care since the outbreak of COVID-19, with over half citing interest in a career that helps or supports others, according to CQC data. So how can the sector to attract and train more carers? 

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Traineeships

Many young people aspire to a job that they can feel good about and which gives value back to society. But for those without experience or who don’t feel confident making the first committed step into work, a traineeship in care could be the stepping stone employers need for recruits to make the leap.

In fact, during 2020 the care sector was Qube’s strongest sector for placing trainees, making up 43% of all placements. Between March and July last year we recruited over 200 care trainees and 82% of these went into work following their traineeship – 36% as an apprentice and 46% into a new job.

Working in care requires a range of skills; some will be natural personality traits, empathy and concern, for example. But practical and technical skills – such as hygiene, personal care, and timekeeping – can be taught with training.

We know from our own research and recruitment experience that young people need and appreciate active, personal support in these roles. Training providers can give this extra assistance, which takes some of the workload off the care employers to be ‘everything’ to new trainees. It’s this early engagement and support which helps young people to envision a long-term career path, with the opportunity for professional development.

High-quality traineeship programmes can help meet the needs of the business and the needs of the trainee. Care businesses can get ahead of the competition by bringing enthusiastic young people into caring roles before they get on to the job ladder, whilst bosses also receive a £1,000 government incentive for every individual trainee they create a placement for.

Apprenticeships

More than 100,000 home care staff and around 50,000 care home staff could lose their jobs because of the “no jab, no job” regulation, adding to the 105,000 vacancies already in the sector. Employers must therefore utilise every opportunity to attract recruits. Tapping into government funded training will be key – rather than letting the millions of pounds set aside go to waste.  

The Apprenticeship Levy is charged at a rate of 0.5% for all employers with a pay bill of over £3 million per annum – but for non-levy paying employers, the funding is still there to access. 

It can be difficult for large companies to spend all the money they have put aside for apprenticeships, and after 24 months huge amounts of unused levy funds expire and return to the government. To give you an idea of scale, apprenticeships minister Gillian Keegan, revealed in May this year that £1 billion “had expired between May 2020 to February 2021”.

Care providers must pay attention to the fact that they can tap into these excess Apprenticeship Levy funds to support their own apprentices. The full 100% of the apprenticeship costs are covered with the Levy transfer.

To avoid the Apprenticeship Levy funds of large companies ‘expiring’, employers who pay the levy can transfer the money to smaller businesses who don’t pay the levy – i.e., your care agency.  The only requirement is that the money must be spent, as the name of the levy suggests, solely on apprenticeships training and assessments.

It’s that simple. This is a great opportunity for smaller care companies, who can take advantage of the transfer as a ‘gift’, to upskill and grow small workforces from Level 2 or GCSE upwards, at low expense.

Apprenticeships don’t just apply to school leavers and young people – it also makes sense to maximise the experience already held within the care sector. The Apprenticeship Levy funds can be used to develop a current and future workforce of team leaders and managers, so can be a valuable retainment tool, alongside recruitment. It’s important to communicate that there is progression onto further qualifications, and later, positions in management, teaching or training. 

E-Learning

E-Learning should be a valuable tool for everyone in the care sector, whether it’s a new school leaver learning the basics for an entry level role, or an experienced worker developing skills in management or infection control.

Qube offers Work-Fit courses which are ideal for young people who might be interested in pursuing a career within the care industry and can help address basic skills ahead of placements. Our course, ‘Preparing to work in Adult Social Care’ supports them in the first steps of being ready and applying for a variety of care-based roles.

Additionally, a path of progression – or as we like to say, the ‘steps to success’ – can be accessed through Qube’s bespoke Training Needs Analysis, developed with employers to agree workers’ progression to higher levels of learning. Online learning options could include infection control, hygiene, moving and handling, and medication to name a few, all accessible via the Qube Vision platform.

Tags : Guest ColumnQube learningstaff shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke