Conversations with your board about apprenticeships

Information and resources on how to begin conversations with your board members as to why apprenticeships should be a priority for each of them.

22 July 2020

Senior leaders play an important role in the successful delivery of your apprenticeship programmes. Gaining their buy-in and support will help embed apprenticeships into your workforce strategy. This page is designed to support you when making a case for apprenticeships to senior leaders and board members.

Download the infographic as a pdf:

Click through the different roles to review the key messages to communicate to each.

  • Provides independent oversight and accountability of board-level decision-making and how the trust is run. Has expert experience in the healthcare sector and other sectors. The chair is a senior non-executive director who ensures the board meets its obligations.

    Priority: Workforce shortages pose a risk to our NHS workforce and patients.

    • Apprenticeships can complement and help shape current and future workforce supply strategies.
    • Apprenticeships will address the key theme of tackling workforce shortages: improving recruitment, retention, access to training and education, as set out in the NHS People Plan.
    • Apprenticeships provide opportunities for cross boundary working and service integration.
    • Apprenticeships provide opportunities for people from different backgrounds and staff to progress, in line with trust values.
  • Sets the strategic vision and direction for the organisation in the short, medium and long-term.

    Priority: Workforce shortages affect a significant proportion of the workforce leading to gaps, poor retention rates and ultimately patient care.

    • Apprenticeships provide existing staff with career-pathways and development opportunities which can lead to better retention.
    • Apprenticeships provide an opportunity for people in the local community to enter the NHS, increasing diversity, leading to better patient experience and outcomes.
    • A strong culture of work-based learning can inspire regular learning in teams, making the best use of existing staff.
    • Research shows employees favour personal development over career progression and are more likely to stay loyal to a company if given opportunities to develop.
    • Apprenticeships help reduce agency spend by lowering staff turnover, improving retention rates and increasing staff morale and engagement, which is known to have an effect on sickness absence.
  • Responsibility for the delivery of Information management and technology strategies that support the trust’s corporate aims and objectives. Provides strategic leadership to ensure that digital technologies are used to improve the experience and outcomes for patients; and improve efficiencies in how care is delivered.

    Priority: A fully functioning and effective IT system can help to free up staff time, ease workload pressures and improve patient care.

    • Delegating tasks to apprentices allows them to learn and take responsibility, while freeing up the time of more experienced staff. Better allocation of work makes teams more productive.
    • ICT apprenticeships provide many opportunities for people to work in the NHS in non-clinical roles. They can also provide progression routes for existing staff.
  • Responsible for the development and strategic planning of a workforce that has the capacity and capability to meet the trust’s vision, values and objectives to deliver high quality services both today and in the future. Ensures a well-motivated, highly and appropriately skilled, high-performing workforce.

    Priority: Workforce shortages can lead to poor staff engagement and health and wellbeing which contribute to staff turnover.

    • Apprenticeships present a genuine alternative to full-time college or university study to anyone aged 16 and over. They can widen access to employment to all areas of your local community. For example the nurse degree apprenticeship, which leads to the same qualification as the traditional route, can be offered to new or existing staff.
    • Apprenticeships can improve retention and staff engagement. Hiring apprentices or retraining staff through apprenticeships can improve overall staff satisfaction and retention and reduce agency spend.
    • Effective workforce planning will help to identify where apprenticeships can support your workforce strategy, meeting skills gaps with new roles.
  • Responsible for leading the operational delivery to ensure the trust delivers high-quality and patient-centred services.

    Priority: Poor staff experience affects patient care, sickness absence and staffing levels.

    • Apprenticeships can be used to fill gaps in the workforce by upskilling or reskilling existing employees. They can also be used to attract new talent into your organisation. Retaining the skills and experience of new and existing employees enables the delivery of excellent patient care.
    • Inclusive apprenticeship recruitment can improve patient experience and outcomes as your workforce will mirror the patient population. A diverse workforce can ensure a better understanding of patients' needs which is crucial for the delivery of joined up, personalised care.
    • Apprenticeships can be a cost-effective way to create a skilled, diverse, flexible and motivated workforce and can help employees keep pace with developments in technology and working practices within healthcare making the trust an attractive employer.
  • Responsible for the development and delivery of the full range of non-clinical services from estates matters to health and safety related responsibilities.

    Priority: Managing and maintaining NHS properties ensures they are safe for patients, staff and visitors.

    • Apprenticeships offer an alternative route into the NHS for people seeking to work in estates and facilities management.
    • Widening your recruitment and alerting young people to the full range of job opportunities available in the NHS can help with harder to fill vacancies.
  • Provides medical leadership and management of the services delivered by doctors and medical workforce-related issues. Responsible for leading management of medical staff, ensuring they deliver safe, effective and high-quality care to patients and ensuring trust delivers its clinical targets.

    Priority: Existing doctor shortages are putting extra pressure on staff and access to high quality care for patients.

    • Apprenticeships for medical associate professions (MAPs) enhance the workforce, performing a range of tasks (under supervision) traditionally associated with doctors in training.
    • Advanced clinical practitioners (ACPs) enhance capacity and capability within multi-professional teams. There is now a level 7 (master's level) apprenticeship in advanced clinical practice available, which can be funded through the apprenticeship levy.
  • Responsible for strategic financial, economic and fiscal leadership and provides advice to the trust board on matters of financial governance.

    Priority: Poor staff experience as a result of workforce shortages costs the NHS a significant amount of money.

    • Long term investment in apprenticeships and investing in staff development and career pathways leads to increased staff engagement, lower turnover and better retention of staff. This investment will reduce agency spend and sickness absence costs, and help tackle vacancy rates, staff shortages and skills gaps.
    • Training apprentices can be cost effective and can reduce overall training and recruitment costs. On top of this, apprentices tend to be loyal to the organisations that invest in them, improving overall staff retention rates.
    • The apprenticeship levy provides the opportunity to maximise apprenticeships within the NHS. Employers in the NHS are considering where they can use apprenticeships to address significant supply challenges, improve skill mix and diversity, and develop the existing and future workforce. Our briefings using the apprenticeship levy and maximising your apprenticeship levy showcase examples of how trusts are gaining the most from their apprenticeship levy.
  • Provides nursing leadership and management of nursing workforce-related issues and the services delivered by nurses. Responsible for ensuring the trust delivers its clinical targets and for leading effective management of nursing staff, ensuring they deliver safe, effective and high-quality care to patients.

    Priority: There are currently more than 40,000 vacancies for nursing roles.

    • Apprenticeships offer people an alternative route into the service helping to develop a local recruitment pipeline. See our routes into nursing infographic.
    • Apprenticeships are a key part of your supply and retention strategy. They offer career development opportunities for existing staff.
    • New apprenticeships have been developed such as the nursing associate. Nursing associates joining the nursing workforce can free up your registered nurses to deliver high quality care.
    • Nursing associates are an asset to a team and a registered profession bringing new skills to your organisation. They also provide a route in for people from different backgrounds wishing to become qualified nurses.
    • For already qualified nurses, apprenticeships are a great opportunity to help them become advanced clinical practitioners, making your trust an attractive place to work with development opportunities, and upskilling your workforce to meet patient need.