(L-R) Jane Murdoch, Clinical Lecturer and Aaron Bradbury,  Senior Lecturer, University College Birmingham

Do you want to provide progression routes for apprentices and grow your portfolio of programmes?

Currently apprenticeships are growing in terms of supporting current business outcomes but one area that it supports is opening many doors to widening participation for many learners seeking both employment and qualifications.

The evolution of apprenticeships provides fantastic opportunity to develop career pathways within the health and social care sector.

Apprenticeships remain a vibrant part of vocational education and training and this article has an emphasis on widening participation and the approaches that support learners, who may not have followed the traditional path of gaining formal qualifications.

Meeting the growing requirements for Health and Social Care sector employees to have accredited qualifications is embedded into Acts of Parliament recognising the importance within the structure of training and standards, laid out within the Health and Social Care Act (2008), Regulation 19.

For many employers, apprentice schemes are rigid and disadvantageous to the business but at University College Birmingham (UCB) we are able to negotiate this and offer a working model to suit their delivery.

We are able to deliver offsite and can arrange timetables to suit workforce needs, for example offering afternoon delivery to ensure healthcare apprentices are available in the morning for their usual clinics.

We have developed a wide range of online resources to ensure there is a flexible approach to learning, for example health scenarios are filmed in the Health Hub, a state of the art virtual learning environment utilising simulation manikins.

Flipped learning allows the learner to watch the scenarios independently, in their preferred setting, and then engage in discussion forums with lecturers and others in their group.

A cross pollination of experience, ideas and best practice takes place, enabling the learners to embed this into the practice.

There is an opportunity for apprentices to begin their journey in further education at intermediate apprenticeship level two.

This is appropriate to someone new to their role in health and social care or without a formal qualification in the sector. Embedded within an intermediate Level 2 apprenticeship standard is the requirement to achieve Level 1 Functional Skills in English and Maths and the Care Certificate.

This in return provides the employer with a safe and knowledgeable employee, who can provide and record a high standard of care. This approach requires a partnership to form and develop between the education provider, learner and employer.

 A Senior Healthcare Worker role offers the opportunity for a valued employee to undertake an advanced apprenticeship at Level 3, with the requirement to achieve Level 2 Functional Skills and demonstrate they continue to meet the 15 standards within the Care Certificate.

An accredited qualification is included in the standard. This role allows the employer to delegate more complex tasks such as venepuncture and ECGs, which are offered as option units.

This supports the employee to achieve competence, tailored to the requirements of the employer’s workforce plan.

The Level 5 Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship then offers opportunity for an experienced Health Care Worker to make the transition from further to higher education.

This requires the development of academic skills, such as referencing and essay writing. Learners require support to make this transition successfully and gain confidence in their growing academic abilities.

The level of responsibility in this apprenticeship requires the learner to demonstrate knowledge, skills and behaviours in leadership and management, applied in a variety of vocational situations.

Learners engage in simulation in virtual learning environments, for example assessing and managing the care of a deteriorating patient.

This helps the learners engage in a safe learning environment, allowing them the time and confidence to ask questions and direct their own learning to their vocational area. 

Sharing experiences with their learning peers, who are from a diverse range of settings, allows them to consider the lifespan and range of care available across the health and social care provision.

Learners completing Level 5 Higher Apprenticeships in Care Leadership and Management and Assistant Practitioner were really keen to continue their learning journey at UCB.

Degree apprenticeships, relevant to the sector, were not available for delivery at that point in time.

Working in partnership with learners, employers and academic staff a top up degree at Level 6 was created and validated.

This offered our learners the opportunity to progress onto a BSC (Hons) in Applied Health and Social Care Practice, which mirrors the delivery style of their apprenticeship, but is currently funded by the employee and / or employer.

The degree includes assessment in practice, to ensure learners continue to embed their growing knowledge of theory and concepts, into their practice.

Many employers have been keen to support their employees beyond the apprenticeships, providing support in the form of study leave and or financial support.

Going above and beyond is an important ethos at UCB and one that meets our learners goal to achieve.

This requires the education provider, learner and employer to believe that it is important to achieve and embed the skills needed within an apprenticeship. We have provided an excellent standard of teaching and assessment, recognised by Ofsted (2017) and the awarding bodies.

Our goal from the beginning of the apprenticeship training journey was to create a career pathway that the learner and employer could visualise.

Quality is key in the infrastructure, resources provided for learners and in the continuing professional development opportunities for current teaching professionals, within the apprenticeship provision.

There are many ways that individuals go that extra mile and a nurturing environment is key. All members of staff have come from a vocational background, which allows learning to link strongly to current vocational practice within the classroom.

This allows the learner to relate to their own journey of vocational practice. In our experience both the learners and employers value starting their journey with us on Level 2 apprenticeship standards.

Learners are encouraged to not just to achieve at that level, but to seek further levels and progression. The business vision is shared through a successful triadic approach to partnership working.

UCB has a successful relationship with many local employers, including Modality GP Partnership who currently employ a Senior Healthcare Assistant studying on a Level 5 Assistant Practitioner programme.

The management team at Modality team frequently visit UCB for employer engagement events and provide feedback for validation of new programmes.

Modality Partnership have supported UCB in its development of training facilities, advising on appropriate equipment to purchase for the virtual learning environment in the Health Hub.

We encourage apprentices to join in additional short courses to enhance their continuing professional development, beyond the requirements of the apprenticeship standards.

This allows the employer to see the benefits of investment and progression opportunities.

We continue to work on the development of new programmes, such as a MSc Health and Social Care, to ensure learners can continue their journey and progression both in terms of employment and academic qualifications.

However, this arguably is the destination for only a small number of learners. We have found that to progress the development knowledge and skills in the workforce and embed high standards within the health and social care sector, there needs to be a thirst for progression in both the academic content and the job market.

We have many apprentices, from Advanced practitioners to Higher level management, who have managed to progress to more senior positions within the health and social care sector, and then offering social mobility in the workforce.

This shows the confidence being built in the apprenticeships from employers, but also in the development of the learner.

Having the skills to be able to progress and succession plan for the health and social care sector workforce undoubtedly supports the infrastructure within a demanding and rapidly changing environment.

Jane Murdoch, Clinical Lecturer and Aaron Bradbury,  Senior Lecturer, University College Birmingham

About Jane Murdoch (RGN, PGCE, FHEA): Jane has 30 years’ experience in healthcare delivery, is a Registered Nurse and Lecturer in health.

About Aaron Bradbury (BA Hons, PGCE, Med, NPQICL, FHEA): Aaron has experience in Health and Social Care, Commissioning and is a Senior Lecturer in Social Care and Education.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Westminster Forum Projects (WFP) added a new event 5 hours

Next steps for SEND provision in England - the SEND...

This conference will be an opportunity to discuss the future for SEND provision in England, following the expected publication of the Government’s...

  • Tuesday, 29 March 2022 09:00 AM
  • Online
Tina Morris has published a new article: Top Digital Solutions to Help Graduates Get Hired 6 hours 8 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page