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#Apprenticeship providers in Merseyside set for greater mental health awareness thanks to Greater Merseyside federation initiative

The Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) is shining a light on mental health awareness among its hub of approximately 70 apprenticeship providers in the Liverpool region by prioritising training based around mental health in the context of its Apprenticeship and Work Based Learning environment.

AT Skills Ltd is delivering the two-day qualification developed by Active IQ to GMLPF adult learners representing local colleges, training providers and local authorities.  The idea is to cascade best practice in identifying and managing mental ill-health among apprentices in the region.

“GMLPF has recognised the need to support its members’ management, tutors and assessors to ensure ‘top down’ awareness and skills around mental health awareness,” says Harriet Franklin, AT Skills training provider. 

“GMLPF supports many apprenticeship providers across Liverpool City Region and has identified a clear need where apprenticeship providers weren’t getting the same level of support in mental health training/awareness as schools and colleges, although they are seeing just as many young people with mental ill-health,” she says. “Furthermore, with Mental Health soon to be included by Ofsted as part of the new common inspection framework, mental health awareness training among apprenticeship teaching staff is vital.”

Harriet has around 12 people on each course.  She sends out a pre-questionnaire to get a flavour of the level of experience in the room enabling her to tailor the training and ensure expectations were met.

“It’s important that I know from the start the level of awareness, understanding and any real-life experiences of people in the room,” she says. 

“The range of knowledge and awareness in a given group results in a collaborative course drawing on people’s experience from different industry apprenticeships which is fantastic.”

Harriet splits the two-day course over a week to allow consolidation of teaching between Day 1, that focuses on awareness and theory, and Day 2, which incorporates Mental Health First Aid and practical elements.  There is also quite a bit of work to study prior to the training and between the two days which she allows leaners time to accommodate.  “The support materials from Active IQ are brilliant, especially their workbooks which help break down some of the more in-depth topics into accessible sections. The format of their materials prompts reflection and discussion at regular intervals and after the course, the learners keep their workbooks for on-going reference to refresh their knowledge and skills.”

One of Harriet’s first cohort of learners is Pavlina Kiakides, who is responsible for communications at GMLPF.  “Mental health is a very real issue for apprenticeship providers particularly in terms of being able to deliver their targets for apprenticeships,” she says.  “There is pressure from the Government on providers to deliver on apprenticeship targets, but the fact remains many young people are entering the apprenticeship process with mental ill-health which must be addressed alongside their learning.  If not, it quickly becomes a barrier to the young person’s progression, in turn inhibiting the training provider from successfully fulfilling their contract.

“The Active IQ course was excellent and Harriet tailored it very well for the apprenticeship market. By the end, I felt much more equipped to start a conversation around mental health with a student where previously I was nervous about broaching the issue,” says Pavlina. “The video content showing real-life situations sparked good discussions around the balance accepting a mental health condition, supporting an apprentice and working with them to tackle their issue. I would definitely recommend this training to other training providers and have already used some of the skills learned to manage situations with compassion and confidence.” 

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