Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

The NHS is undoubtedly one of the organisations that’s had the toughest time during Covid, yet among the turmoil brought by the pandemic, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust still found the time and resources to continue developing its comprehensive apprenticeship programme despite the upheaval.

With an estimated 40,000 vacancies across the country just in nursing, and traditional recruitment methods such as a focus on hiring pre-trained staff failing to fill sufficient vacancies across the trust, the HR team commissioned the ‘Get In, Get On, Go Further’ programme in late 2017 with the aim of supporting the trust’s wider business strategy by increasing the number of apprentices at the Trust; increasing its levy spend; supporting staff on apprenticeships to better retain them; and building career pathways to help those staff develop and move to fill key gaps in the workforce.

With apprenticeships previously avoided by many managers looking to recruit because of a lack of understanding, a key part of the programme was internal communications and stakeholder engagement in order to bring about a culture shift so managers understood that apprenticeships were a valuable and viable option for filling gaps in the workforce, as well as staff development. The HR team took a data-led approach to this engagement, referencing studies that showed recruiting apprentices from the local area would increase retention, improve health outcomes among the local community and generate a more inclusive workforce based on regional demographics.

The trust also worked to implement a raft of measures to support those undertaking apprenticeships and improve retention, including a specific apprenticeships policy; dedicated staff providing pastoral care for apprentices; and training for managers around how best to help those undertaking the qualifications.

And the impact of the trust’s efforts in this area has been astonishing. It has seen a more than six-fold increase in the number of apprenticeship starts since 2018, up to more than 900 from 140, and the trust’s levy spending increased from £846k in 2018 to more than £2.5m in 2020. Compared to those who started their training prior to 2018, there has also been a 7 per cent decrease in people dropping out before completing their qualification. The hourly pay benefits of employing healthcare support worker apprentices, for example, and supporting them to become nurses, has also saved the trust considerable expense – at one point during 2020, in one area of the workforce alone, the trust was saving more than £2,000 an hour during the day.

The judges for this category commented on how the trust’s passion for apprenticeships really shone through in their entry, and how apprentices at the trust are very much part of its DNA. With a clear alignment between apprenticeship pathways and workforce planning, the judges also commended the trust’s mental health and line management support for apprentices, as well as how it supported their journey during the Covid pandemic. 

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