Combatting capacity challenges in health and social care

4.5 mins read time

Workforce pressures are the most significant challenge facing the health and social care sector today – and gaps need to be filled. Skills for Care’s most recent report identified around 105,000 care vacancies were advertised on an average day in 2020/21, a figure that’s estimated to rise to nearly half a million by 2035.

The report is a stark reminder of the sector’s continued recruitment and retention challenges, and its mounting capacity pressures.

Factor in the impact of Brexit on European workers, the potential implications of the mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy and the demands of an ageing population, and it’s clear that not only does the sector need urgent support, but retaining its workforce has never been more important.

The sector’s growing concerns have been recognised by Government. An investment of £162.4 million investment through the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund supported recruitment and retention of staff through the winter, while the ‘Way to Work’ initiative has launched this January to fill record numbers of vacancies at pace.

"As we emerge from COVID, we are going to tackle supply challenges and support the continued economic recovery by getting people into work […] while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs."

Thérèse Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary

But with vacancy pressures only increasing, what other strategies can care employers quickly adopt to help retain and support their workforce? Apprenticeships are a key tool for combatting the most significant capacity challenges facing health and social care.

By developing skills and creating progressive career pathways, care employers can use apprenticeships to unlock bright futures for their people, so they stay in their roles. With future-ready training available with the levy, apprenticeships provide a clear route for filling vital workforce gaps – and for creating lasting change for the health and social care workforce.

Boosting retention with apprenticeships

In the National Apprenticeship Service’s guide, 69% of employers say that employing apprentices improved staff retention. And that 65% of apprentices stay working for the company that trained them when they complete their apprenticeship.

In this sector, quality training is vital to gain qualified staff, progress them in their careers and retain them in their roles. Care apprenticeships provide role-relevant training through well-structured programmes, developing a pipeline of skilled, qualified people that can tackle today’s workforce challenges.

Our care partners use apprenticeships to support retention – and they’ve seen impressive stats. Our recent case study with Care UK highlighted how 67% of their apprentices have been retained one year after achieving their apprenticeship with Lifetime.

From the very start of their employment, Care UK’s people can enrol onto an apprenticeship, and as a result, 93% of its 128 nursing home sites have apprentices. Together, we’ve established a strategy for training excellence that constantly evolves to improve retention.

Recruiting fresh talent

Recruiting new care apprentices is crucial in securing a skilled, competent and future-proofed workforce. With recruitment and retention high on the agenda for all social care organisations, using a training provider with a free apprenticeship recruitment service is an invaluable tool for opening a wider pool of talent.

Our care partners recognise that employees who gain qualifications are statistically more likely to stay with the business. Our free recruitment service has been a success for many of the employers we work with, across both large national organisations and SME provision. These partners use apprenticeships to provide access to further education, clear progression pathways, and the stability of a secure career.

We’ve recently worked with Bupa to launch its new apprenticeship recruitment programme, recruiting 50 new apprentices across its care settings. It's just one way we’re working together to attract new talent, support career progression and develop new pathways for their people.

Bringing lasting change

The health and social care sector faces considerable challenges moving forward. Reviewing recruitment and retention activities that build on government-backed initiatives has the potential to be a real-game changer for the sector – and its people. Apprenticeships are a sustainable solution for not only filling roles, but also continuing skills development to provide longevity.

“It's been an incredibly tough 24 months for the Care sector, where workforce pressures have increased exponentially. I’ve seen first-hand how apprenticeships have been a key tool in workforce development planning and driving essential skills development, but also providing job stability with industry-recognised qualifications. We know there is still a way to go, but we are looking forward to driving a positive future together.”

Alison Simpson, Care Director at Lifetime
disabled person and carer

We’re partnered with over 60 employers in health and social care settings, have over 10 years' experience in the sector, and have trained 10,000+ achievers.

With our size, scale and experience, we deliver industry-leading health and social care training that improves retention, designed to develop future-ready skills and fuel the sector’s growth.

Empowering your

care workforce

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