In July 2020, NHS England published the People Plan, setting out ambitions around workforce, whilst focussing efforts on “rapid” recruitment across all health and care roles and professions.
I warmly welcomed the plan, setting out our targets up to March 2021 and reflecting the incredible effort of staff across the Humber, Coast and Vale partnership, in what had been the most challenging year most of us have ever experienced in our careers.
We have a collective drive and determination to invest in the next generation of caring professionals, working with our partners to meet the needs of our region’s primary care and health and social care organisations in the future.
The Partnership is hugely committed to supporting all of our partners delivering health and care services, to identify skills gaps, provide workforce planning and to utilise around £2million of available levy funds annually to invest in essential future staffing.
The Government’s target of 2.5% of the workforce starting an apprenticeship has been exceeded by 0.2% in Humber, Coast and Vale, surpassing the national average and demonstrating our collective commitment to increasing apprentice opportunities.
We and our partners have effectively utilised and shared the levy funds and this has proved to be a key enabler to helping our people to succeed. This year’s funding has so far secured 110 apprentices, 10% of which are newly-created roles and a further 100 Trainee Nursing Associates are due to begin training this year. Previous years’ funding has gone in part towards training 170 Nurse Associates, performing a vital role in bridging the gap as new members of the nursing team.
The numbers are a great achievement but we know there is more to do in partnership with our local employers and Health Education England to maximise use of this important resource to ensure the levy is retained and used in support of our health and care system. We have developed a system-wide process of levy transfer in our region to enable larger organisations to gift some of their levy to benefit smaller employing organisations and are working with our partners to enable an approach that targets those areas of greatest need.
We continue to work with partners to understand and address skills shortages, attract new talent, support our most deprived communities to access careers in health and care, upskill existing staff, and retain the workforce. This means developing a whole range of apprenticeships including Health and Social Care, Nursing Associates, Business Administration, Senior Healthcare Support Workers, Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeships and many more.
The scheme provides practical experience through work-based training, lasting at least 12 months, and is available to anyone over the age of 16, enabling learners to demonstrate competencies, receive a salary, and gain a recognised qualification. The scheme also enables us to develop our existing workforce providing opportunities for qualifications and alternative careers.
The People Plan tells us that since the start of the pandemic there has been an unprecedented interest in health and care careers and higher numbers of applications to education and training. In Humber, Coast and Vale our ambition is to invest more in young people to provide vital experience and skills and help them to access local apprenticeships.
With thousands of young people in our region actively seeking employment, we are now aiming to develop a pilot scheme to create opportunities and we know from speaking to colleagues that there is real appetite within the region to provide more support for traineeships. We look forward to building on our successes, investing more in our apprenticeships schemes and meeting the region’s workforce ambitions of the future.