Organisation management software provider, The Access Group, has completed a levy donation pledge to help the health and social care workforce recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pledge is part of a company-wide commitment to invest in people and skills.
As part of the pledge, which opened in March last year, the Health, Support and Care division (HSC) arm of the company has invested £100,000, helping to alleviate workforce pressures by enabling 86 health and social care apprenticeships across the country.
The investment is part of the apprenticeship levy scheme, which aims to encourage work-based training in particular sectors by making large organisations set aside funds for apprenticeships.
In July 2022, the Health and Care Committee noted that Care England reported that 95 per cent of care providers were struggling to recruit staff and that 75 percent of providers were struggling to retain their existing workforce.
In October, the CQC’s State of Care report said that in the first three months of 2022, 2.2 million hours of homecare could not be delivered due to insufficient workforce capacity.
As job satisfaction is a huge factor in the departure of many health and social care workers, the funds are intended to help organisations ensure more people join, stay and progress within the industry.
But with £3.5 billion of levy funds unused since 2019, the scheme has faced criticised from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), UKHospitality, techUK, and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).
The trade organisations recently called for the government to widen the scheme and create a broader skills levy that can be spent on a wider range of high-quality, accredited courses.
Steve Sawyer, Managing Director, Access HSC, said:
“We welcome discussions about reform to the apprenticeship levy scheme, as we are keen to maximise the impact of the funds and make apprenticeships more accessible.
“However, in traditionally ‘tech-poor’ sectors, like social care, the scheme is already making a positive impact, with apprenticeships playing a crucial role in improving job satisfaction and, ultimately, staff retention, with unhappy and unfulfilled staff more likely to move into other roles.”
The Access Group has invested the money into its own apprenticeship schemes as well as sharing it with 25 organisations from across health and care, supporting them to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
To date, Access HSC has supported care homes with apprenticeships ranging from Level 2 to level 5, which is equivalent to a foundation degree.
Benefactors of the financial support include residential care providers, Home2Home with Care, Burrow Down Support; and domiciliary care provider, Hamble Valley Care.
Each month, Access HSC transfers funds to a range of care organisations, enabling them to work with apprenticeship providers of their choice to deliver employee training and support.
At the start of the process, the apprenticeship providers worked with the various care organisations and their employees to understand which apprenticeships were right for them.
Individuals across the age spectrum are now being trained as part of the programme, covering qualifications from Levels 2 to 5, which ranges from GCSE to foundation degree level.
“When we first explored the potential of this opportunity, we took the decision to make the investment available to all organisations, not just our customers, ensuring it can be used effectively by those who need it the most.
“Our approach aligns with recent comments made by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who outlined his commitment to apprenticeships and explained how the department will be working with local leaders on prioritisation.”