Your care organisation may be considering whether apprenticeships can be a core component of your employee recruitment strategy. Skills for Care published their ‘Apprenticeships in adult social care’ report in March 2023 and found that around 28,700 apprenticeships were started in the sector during 2021/22, a decrease of 15% from the year prior. However, the overall number of starts have increased by 9% across all apprenticeships.
So, what are the factors that contribute to an effective apprenticeship plan? In this article, we’ll be having a look at some top tips to make the most out of apprenticeships.
Top five tips for utilising apprenticeships in social care
1. Give your apprentices a mentor
Starting an apprenticeship can be daunting for those who may be at the beginning of their working career (and for those who are doing an Advanced or Higher apprenticeship for the first time) so it’s important to support them through their journey. One way to do this is to give them a mentor who they can go to for guidance.
A good mentor will help nurture your new apprentice to achieve their goals and to be consistent to the needs and expectations of your organisation. A mentor can also help boost your new apprentice’s confidence when starting in their new role, as they have someone they can shadow as soon as they enrol into your organisation.
Mentors can detail how your apprentice’s work fits within the team and where they can go to for support when they need it, checking in on them frequently so you know that they are on the right track.
2. Lead by example
Make your apprentices aware of your organisation’s standards and expectations. Support them in achieving these and show them best practice in your own work.
Be sure to share your knowledge and experiences from your previous roles within social care. We have all started from scratch in our careers once. Having someone who can show the best way to tackle difficult tasks or follow guidelines helps your apprentices to start off on the right foot.
Provide advice, guidance, and feedback to your apprentices so they are always adhering to high standards and developing the skills they’ll be drawing on both at work and as part of their studies.
3. Make them feel involved
Get your apprentices involved in team meetings, discussions, and special projects to make them feel part of the team. This helps them to feel valued, that they play an important role in the needs of your organisation and will give them a sense that they have a future within the service once their apprenticeship has been completed.
Make sure that you are involved in their programme. Be interested in what studies they complete and how you can offer new experiences that they can refer to in their off-the-job training.
You can identify development opportunities that they can pursue in your organisation, whether it’s something they would like to do as part of their own role or shadowing in a different department.
4. Create a safe space and culture
Apprenticeships are more than just a learning programme; it’s a contract of employment with the intent of having a permanent job at the end. You don’t want to spend time and effort on bespoke training for your apprentice if a negative working culture means they take their skills somewhere else.
Not only that, but apprenticeships cover a range of education levels. According to Skills for Care, 42% of adult social care apprenticeships completed in 2021/22 were of an Advanced level. You want your apprentices to have a good experience with your service and use their growing knowledge and skill set within your organisation.
When done well, a positive and safe working environment can lead to a cultural shift within a care business.
5. Learn from the experience
Taking on apprentices will be a learning curve for you and your organisation. Plan one-to-one time with your apprentice to reflect on what you have all learnt from the process and what you might do differently in future.
And by receiving feedback and ironing out any creases that were noted along the way, you will improve the apprenticeship process and experience year by year.
A discussion can highlight areas where your apprentice may have struggled, such as well-being or time management. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education found that 92% of apprentices felt they had the same access to well-being support as other staff - a really positive result, but maybe additonal support can be offered. Perhaps you could provide a Flexible or Integrated apprenticeship so you can fit the programme to the needs of your apprentice and your organisation.
This blog has outlined five hints and tips for supporting apprenticeships in the care sector. For more ideas on apprenticeships, register for our webinar here: Apprenticeships in the Care Sector – Top Tips
Don’t forget to take a look at our care business management solution Care Cloud to find out exactly how it can enhance your care processes.