From education to employment

Award finalist’s healthcare remedy from “trailblazing” apprentices

An industry-leading apprenticeship programme is producing the next generation of specialist healthcare professionals to meet the future challenges posed by an ageing Welsh population.

With 15,000 staff, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTM) is a major South Wales employer, providing primary, community, hospital and mental health services to 450,000 people living in the Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf boroughs.

After identifying that one in four people in Wales will be aged 65 and over by 2036, CTM evolved its strategy four years ago to embrace work-based learning to broaden its recruitment opportunities.

And among its numerous apprenticeship offerings, CTM last year launched the Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Health Care Science (HCS) in partnership with training provider, Educ8 Training. It’s the first of its kind in Wales that bridges the gap from a Level 3 health related qualification to allowing the learner to access a degree and become a registered scientist.

Now CTM has been shortlisted for the Large and Macro Employer of the Year Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.

The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.

Rhian Lewis, CTM’s learning and development business partner for qualifications, explained: “Ordinarily, health care support workers without this route were stuck in band two and three roles with limited progression, but this now gives them the opportunity to develop, earn more money and reach their dreams.

“The introduction of the HCS Level 4 addresses serious skills shortages by developing key skills within the sector through growing our own staff.

“The HCS framework is an amazing qualification that is part of a suite of resources available to support the development of staff and build on high quality services. It offers transferable knowledge and skills in over 50 disciplines to provide a sustainable solution.”

The Level 4 qualification supports learners into assistant audiology, blood science and clinical engineering roles, to name but a few. While the programme is running across the whole of Wales, it has been led by the CTM team.

Apprenticeships are also offered in partnership with Talk Training and ACT Training, but CTM has aligned with Educ8 to develop bespoke apprenticeships that are relevant to both the health board and the individual.

With 553 staff having accessed an apprenticeship qualification, and 215 currently employed in permanent positions, the programme is bearing fruit.

“Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board deserve recognition for their trailblazing work,” said Ann Nicholas, Educ8 Training’s customer account director. “They are an ambitious organisation who identify that training and development of staff is fundamental in ensuring the continuous delivery of excellent care to their community and patients.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated CTM and all the other shortlisted finalists. “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic,” he said.

“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.

“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.

“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: or call 03000 603000.

Picture caption:

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s learning and development business partner for qualifications Rhian Lewis with laboratory apprentices Gerrrard Fletcher, Sian Yearsley and Kirsty Griffiths.

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