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05 Feb 2024

Guest blog: The value of apprenticeships in the care sector

Guest blog: The value of apprenticeships in the care sector

It's National Apprenticeship Week! Here's a guide to the value of apprenticeships in care from Sarah Arnesen, Marketing Director at Paragon Skills.

Did you know that...

  • Apprentices are 85% more likely to stay in employment
  • 92% of companies which have taken on an apprentice agree that it leads to a more motivated and happier workforce
  • 90.6% of apprentices surveyed in the Paragon Skills destination survey in 2023 said they had gone on to a positive destination (work or further education) since completing their apprenticeship
  • 65% of apprentices stay working at the company which trained them when they have completed their apprenticeship
  • 59% of apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship will go on to receive a promotion and 72% take on additional responsibilities
  • 91% of apprentices report that they are able to perform their job better as a result of completing their apprenticeship

Recruitment and retention

When we talk about workforce issues in care settings, we are understandably focused on the recruitment and retention of our frontline care workers. However, every business – regardless of its size or the type of care it provides – also needs to attract and retain a strong office team that can ensure quality service delivery.

Apprenticeship programmes can add value within care businesses by supporting recruitment and retention, and by ensuring that employees are given the opportunity to develop a professional career in care, be that on the frontline or elsewhere in the business.

2021 to 2023 was a period often referred to as the “Great Resignation” – a year when workers quit their jobs at historic rates. This trend seems to be continuing into 2024, with a survey from Slack showing that a third of UK employees are considering a career change. Initially thought to be driven by flexible working, this mass exodus appears to stem from much deeper problems, with only 1 in 5 leavers stating this as their reason for leaving.

People-centric policies are key to retaining employees and improving overall morale, whilst also improving productivity. According to an annual survey from SD Worx, the HR and payroll specialist, UK employers now consider employee retention and attrition as their top HR challenge for the coming year.

In the UK, the top five HR challenges for 2024 are as follows:

  • Employee retention and attrition – 45%
  • Staff welfare and resilience – 44%
  • Employee engagement and experience – 40%
  • Staff planning (including flexible workers) – 35%
  • Talent attraction and recruitment – 30%

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020, inclusion, diversity, sustainability and re-skilling are all factors that drive an employee's intention to remain, with more than 6 in 10 of those surveyed highlighting these policies.

Larger businesses and SMEs are faced with the problem of creating a meaningful development path, with an emphasis on understanding people’s career expectations. By strengthening succession planning, employees have the opportunity to gain different development experiences through sideways moves where promotions are not feasible.

The pandemic reinforced the importance of workers being adaptable, willing and able to pivot or learn new skills as necessary, since jobs were being reprioritised on immediate needs.

Developing an employee retention strategy is essential when facing the rising costs and causes of turnover specific to the organisation. As well as basic pay and benefits, organisations should consider the following practices, all of which have been proven to play a positive role in retention.

  • Flexibility – where possible, accommodate individual preferences on working hours and times.
  • Treating people fairly – one of the biggest causes of voluntary resignation is a perception of unfairness which has serious ramifications.
  • Employee wellbeing – support managers to help their teams thrive and manage issues such as workplace stress.
  • Career development and progression – maximise opportunities to develop skills and careers.
  • Consulting employees – ensure that employees have a voice through regular performance conversations, attitude surveys and grievance systems.

Apprenticeships can be key to improving talent retention, and hiring apprentices brings a number of benefits to employers in any sector. For example:

  • 80% of employers have maintained or improved future skills in the business.
  • 70% of employers have seen improvements in the goods and services they offer.
  • 66% of employers have experienced improved staff morale.

Studies have shown that apprentices themselves are 85% more likely to stay in employment post qualification, with a staggering 64% staying with the same employer.

Why do apprentices stay?

From the offset, the apprentice is valued and invested in by their employer during the scheme, preparing them fully for a career in the company. Candidates themselves are much more driven as many have specifically sought out an apprenticeship, particularly at entry-level, and are likely to be focused with a clear intention to stay within the business.

Apprenticeships are an opportunity for development and have a clearly mapped progression route. With this structure in place, apprenticeships create a real sense of confidence in the learner, which is an essential part of the learning process, and managers have a clear understanding of the progression route, alleviating the anxiety of additional responsibilities.

You need to develop a workforce that not only fills the current skills gap but also aligns with the future needs of your company. Apprenticeships are key to keeping up with the ever-evolving world of work and bringing fresh new talent into your business.

How we can help

Paragon Skills offers a free recruitment service with teams dedicated to making sure you get the right person for the right role. With a national reach, this service attracts, screens and shortlists the apprentices for you. We work closely with each employer to understand what your business needs and help you find that perfect candidate for your role.

Recruiting and training new talent aside, apprenticeships offer a highly effective route to addressing skills shortages, whilst developing careers across the entirety of your business.

Looking at where resource is needed most allows you to maximise impact through training. Role-specific programmes and off-the-job training developed specifically for your company help the learner to apply their skills from day one, which of course is a win-win situation for all parties.

Upskilling employees not only significantly increases their confidence in the role, but also in the company as well. 92% of companies which have taken on an apprentice agree that it leads to a more motivated and happier workforce. By clearly mapping internal career progression and providing structured pathways, you show employees that you are investing in them. This encourages employees to see their job as a career and know that they are part of a valued workforce. With 80% of companies seeing a significant increase in employee retention because of apprenticeships, it’s difficult to disagree.

If you want to find out more about how apprenticeships can help your business solve its retention issues, get in touch with Paragon Skills on 0800 783 2545.

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