Health informatics scheme will help school leavers into work and improve support for NHS health professionals and patients
The National Skills Academy for Health (NSA) Apprenticeship Training Agency, which was set up last September, aims to improve skills training across the sector.
Under the apprenticeship scheme, school leavers follow a one-year course, which includes in-house experience with a trust’s administration and finance department, along with ongoing education by a training provider.
The course was developed in response to demands by local employers, who registered a need for more young people in the field.
Judith Jones, cadet development lead at Skills for Health Academy North West, said: “We were being told that employers need ‘new blood’ in these fields, and that in many cases this was not coming through, because young people did not have the right skills or training.”
The scheme involves a six-week induction course, followed by a placement with one of the participating NHS trusts, which includes Aintree hospitals NHS trust, Merseyside NHS trust and Royal Liverpool Broad Green NHS hospitals trust.
It aims to train around 400 cadets a year across all sectors in the health field, and will lead to an NHS recognised level 2 apprenticeship qualification in health informatics (HI). The programme has already attracted 14 cadets who are currently on placements.
Tom Maudsley, 18, is working with IMerseyside, which provides IT support to a range of NHS organisations.
He said: “I’m really enjoying the training and I like the fact that I get real work experience as well as the educational side two days a week in college, and everyone in the workplace has been very supportive.”
Emily Golightly, 19, who is working with Cheshire and Merseyside commissioning support unit (CSU), is also positive about the scheme. “I already had family members working in the NHS and I liked the idea of working in the health service, but I wouldn’t have known about it if they hadn’t told me about it,” she said.
Cadets spend three days a week in the workplace and two days in classes run by further education provider, City of Liverpool College.
NSA director Candace Miller said: “High quality information provided on time within the NHS has never been more important for supporting health professionals and patients. We already have a number of successful apprenticeship programmes underway, but often with a focus on clinical, patient-based roles.
“Increasingly, young people who decide they don’t want to take a more traditional route into employment – such as further and higher education – are looking to apprenticeships as a practical way of learning new skills, which can dramatically improve their chances of permanent employment at the end of their initial course.”
She added: “There’s also the very real appeal of being able to earn while they learn, rather than building up debts while studying – an option that simply might not be viable for many of them.”
The NSA said it hopes the scheme will inspire employers and education providers in other areas to establish similar programmes, which will secure a pool of qualified administration and IT staff to meet future NHS requirements.