Jordan Faithwaite is the Education, Learning and OD manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT). In this blog she discusses how the trust is using the customer service apprenticeship to strengthen its workforce supply pipeline.
At LTHT, we were concerned about the lack of opportunities at level 2 with the impending removal of the level 2 business administration apprenticeship. This strategy was developed to prevent the impact on opportunities at this level once the level 2 business administration apprenticeship is removed. In the past, we have used this apprenticeship as a pipeline to a range of roles including receptionists, ward clerks, administrative assistants, business support officers and roles in HR and finance.
To prepare for the removal of this apprenticeship, we explored alternative apprenticeship standards which would maintain a pipeline to entry level jobs at LTHT. We decided to start offering the level 2 customer service practitioner apprenticeship as an alternative, to give opportunities to apprentices starting their careers in the NHS. Like the business administration apprenticeship, this apprenticeship teaches apprentices additional skills in communication and providing quality service to customers, regardless of who their customer is.
The level 2 customer service apprenticeship has proven to be versatile and we have used it in a range of roles within corporate services and clinical settings. In order to best use this apprenticeship, learners have been encouraged and supported by the college to reconsider who a customer is within the trust, as it is not strictly always a patient. For example, working in HR, the customer could be members of staff asking for support and advice.
The areas which support customer service apprentices are wide ranging and include: the referral and booking service, outpatients booking services, the Leeds cancer centre, HR and radiology. In each of these settings the apprentices meet a range of internal and external staff, patients and families, which provides experiences that enable the apprentices to achieve their required competencies.
Previously, the level 2 business administration apprenticeship would have been used in these areas, but the customer service apprenticeship has supported apprentices to undertake their administrative duties while also focusing on the level and delivery of service and customer experience.
When advertising the apprenticeship, we describe the position as a business administration role while working towards a level 2 customer service practitioner qualification and we reflected on where the apprenticeship could be best used to attract new talent. We have begun to use the level 2 customer service practitioner apprenticeship as an entry point for our pre-employment programmes, which support individuals from less-represented communities into employment at LTHT.
We recruit apprentices in cohorts using one single provider, meaning that when apprentices undertake their 20 per cent off-the-job learning, they are with their peers from the trust. Currently, we have 48 customer service apprentices on programme, with the first cohort about to go through end point assessment.
We recognise the opportunity the level 2 customer service apprenticeship offers to apprentices coming into the trust from a range of backgrounds which is why we use this apprenticeship to continue to widen access to a range of careers in the NHS.
To learn more about apprenticeships, or other options available following the removal of the level 2 business administration apprenticeships, email the NHS Employers Workforce Supply Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org