The Fylde Coast Health and Social Care Career Academy has delivered its first Sector-Based Work Academy in partnership with the NHS and JobCentre Plus, and seen some outstanding results.

The six week academy saw 21 previously unemployed students who had been referred by the Job Centre enrol on the programme to provide them with entry level skills for the health sector.

As part of the scheme, all students were then guaranteed interviews for positions as Health Care Assistants with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,

Ellie MacManus, Career Transformation, Engagement and Development Manager at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re committed to growing our own talent here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and are always searching for new and innovative ways to do this.

“We undertake a large amount of work with schools, colleges and sixth forms on the Fylde coast to encourage future careers in health, but were limited in what we offered to people over the age of 18. With the exception, of course, to the hundreds of undergraduate degree students who undertake placements with us each year.

“There are a raft of people on the Fylde Coast who could be future healthcare professionals delivering care to our local community. We therefore bid for funding to Health Education England to support growing our own.

“We then approached B&FC and the DWP, as part of the Fylde Coast Health and Social Care Academy, to assist us with this daring new project.

“This six week training and work experience programme equips the candidates to ‘hit the ground running’ and also includes a guaranteed job interview for a Health Care Assistant (HCA) position at the end of the programme.

“We’re overjoyed at the success of this pilot programme and hope to create a rolling programme two or three times per year.”

Following the six-week programme and interviews for roles at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the results saw: 

  • 18 out of the cohort of 21 employed
  • One of the remaining students decide to return to College in September to begin their Level 2 diploma in Health and Social Care

A celebration event was held at B&FC’s University Centre last week to recognise the outstanding achievements of all the students involved.

Student Pauline Winder, 41, from Blackpool, said: “The course has been brilliant. The lecturers and staff have been really supportive and made everyone feel welcome. They were also great at helping people with any personal issues they might have.

“I was really nervous going back into education but my family were really supportive. I had worked in the care sector for lots of private sector companies and always wanted to get into the NHS but could never do it because of my family commitments. Now my children are older and I thought this is my time to really go and do something I had wanted to do for a long time.”

Fellow student Fatmah Ali, 26, from Blackpool, added: “I’ve been working in seasonal jobs for a while and wanted something more permanent. I’m completely new to the sector but I’ve always had an interest in medicine and health so thought I would follow that.

“It was a bit nerve-wracking at first but my confidence has really grown. I really want to go into social care or as a specialist nurse, working with infections. This is definitely my future career.”

The success of the academy means the three partner organisations will develop similar programmes on a regular basis. It is the first example of partnership working linked to the new Fylde Coast Health and Social Care Career Academy.

Academy Manager Helen Cook added: “This is the first time we have run this type of programme but we are delighted with the success and will be delivering similar programmes throughout the year, with guaranteed interviews with the hospital trust.

“The students worked extremely hard and were often coming back into education for the first time in years, which presented challenges we were able to help them overcome.

“To see the group secure roles at the hospital is something we’re extremely proud of and is why we set up the health and social care career academy as an employer led education and training vehicle which ensures we are delivering relevant skills businesses need from new employees.”

The ground-breaking new Fylde Coast Health and Social Care Career Academy is a strategic partnership which brings together extensive industry expertise, led by NHS Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, Blackpool Council and Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC), with a raft of private sector partners sitting on the steering group to guide the direction of the organisation.

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