Benefits of apprenticeships

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Apprenticeships bring a number of tangible benefits to NHS organisations. They can create skilled and motivated employees and, if used properly, can help to address skills shortages across the workforce. 

  • Apprenticeships benefit employers - 75 per cent of employers reported that they improved the quality of their services.
  • Apprenticeships benefit the workforce – 92 per cent of those who completed an apprenticeship said their career prospects had improved as a result.
  • Apprenticeships make good business sense - research has shown that apprenticeship programmes deliver a high level of return on investment. 
(Figures taken from the government's 2015 apprenticeship evaluation surveys of employers and learners, and the value of further education research).

Apprenticeships can reduce training and recruitment costs and improve retention

Training apprentices can be more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff and can reduce overall training and recruitment costs. Apprentices tend to be loyal to the organisations that invest in them, improving staff retention rates.

Apprenticeships can develop a skilled, motivated and qualified workforce

Employer-led apprenticeship reforms are improving the quality of apprenticeships, providing the skills that employers need to secure a talented workforce for the future. 

Higher and degree apprenticeships are providing higher level technical skills and are seen as a valid alternative to university, for example, a degree-level nursing apprenticeship standard has been approved which employers can offer to new or existing staff from September 2017.  Further details are available on the website

Proposals are also in development for a progression pathway to help nurses reach advanced practitioner level.

Work continues on the development of the apprenticeship standard for the new nursing associate role. A skills escalator is also being developed that will help with the progression of staff through entry-level apprenticeships to a nursing degree apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship standards have now been published for a range of roles that are relevant to the health sector, including healthcare science assistants, healthcare support workers, and assistant practitioners. For more information visit our apprenticeship standards web page

Apprenticeships can increase the number of young people working in the NHS

Opening up employment opportunities for young people is of particular benefit, given the ageing NHS workforce and concerns around certain skill shortages. You can read more about employing young people on our ThinkFuture web pages. Widening the pool of people employed within the NHS also links to the equality and diversity and widening participation agendas.

Apprenticeships can provide opportunities for an older workforce

Many employers are now switching on to the idea of offering apprenticeships to staff in their 30s, 40s or older, to retain skills and experience and avoid skills shortages. In 2014/15, over 55,700 of those starting an apprenticeship were aged 45 to 59. A further 3,400 were aged over 60. Visit the Age Action Alliance website for more details. 

NHS Employers previously facilitated a Working Longer Group which produced a number of tools and resources to assist NHS organisations with preparing for and supporting an ageing workforce.

Apprenticeships can help recruit a diverse workforce

Supporting the government's 2020 vision for English apprenticeships, there is a focus on increasing the proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) apprentices by 20 per cent during the current parliament. You can learn more about recruiting BAME members of staff through Herpreet's journey into the NHS, and from our recruiting from cultural communities page.

It's also important to recruit disabled people and those with learning difficulties or disabilities (LDD) because this can improve patient care, reduce staff sickness absence and increase productivity.

Our Recruiting diverse apprenticeships document contains top tips to consider to ensure your approach to apprenticeships will enable you to develop a diverse workforce.

The national voice for lifelong learning, has developed an employer toolkit for those wanting to develop a more inclusive and accessible apprenticeship offer. It provides practical information, sources of support and inspirational case studies from employers who have benefited from hiring and supporting disabled apprentices.

For more information about how you can build a diverse workforce visit our pages on recruiting from your community.

Apprenticeships can improve patient care

Apprentices tend to be eager, motivated and flexible. As apprentices they train for specific job, and this usually means they are committed to that role and have made an active choice to learn within a work setting.

Theresa Nelson, chief officer for workforce development at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, has written a blog about the benefits gained from offering apprenticeships in a range of areas, and the positive impact upon those taking part, the staff supporting them, and ultimately their patients.

Further information

Our apprenticeships mythbusting page addresses some of the misconceptions regarding the recruitment of apprentices.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced a guide for employers - Apprenticeships that work that outlines how to set up and run high-quality apprenticeship programmes that benefit both organisations and employees.

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