From education to employment

Health board improves workforce equality with its Apprenticeships Programme

Swansea Bay University Health Board’s widening access and workforce inclusion organisational development manager Marie-Andree Lachapelle with apprentice and staff development co-ordinator Abbie Finch and former apprentice Bethany Jones, who is now postgraduate medical and dental supervisor.

A healthier and more equal Wales are at the heart of Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Apprenticeship Programme.

Embedded in the Health Board’s Strategic Equality Plan is the aim to improve workforce equality and this will be driven partly through apprentice recruitment.

Currently, and despite recruitment challenges brought about by the Covid pandemic, the Health Board has 29 apprentices and 18 awaiting starts.

Since 2016, it has recruited 215 apprentices, working with training providers NPTC Group of Colleges and Gower College Swansea and now offers 17 Apprenticeship Frameworks in Level 2 upwards ranging from Pathology Support to Electronic Engineering.

This commitment to apprenticeships has resulted in the health board being shortlisted for the Macro Employer of the Year award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.

This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

The Health Board’s Apprentice Academy offers a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity whereby a learner can change pathway to a more suited course.

Apprentice and staff development co-ordinator Abbie Finch said: “Our value of ‘always improving’ is ingrained in our staff and apprenticeships help to not only create more satisfied employees, but a more secure, stable workforce which improves patient care.”

Working with local schools and colleges, the Health Board aims to increase apprenticeship opportunities for those with a disability, within the Black Asian Minority Ethnic community whilst addressing gender inequality within its 12,500 staff.

Monthly induction days, two-monthly mentor meetings, guaranteed internal interviews, quarterly attainment and progression reviews and a new exit review process are all part of the health board’s apprenticeship package.

Alec Thomas, Pathways training manager with NPTC Group of Colleges, said:

“Swansea Bay University Health Board is a fantastic example of an organisation that really demonstrates its commitment to developing its apprentices.”

Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:

“Our Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes are helping people fulfil their career ambitions and I’m delighted we have already reached our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this Senedd term. 

“This has been key in helping apprentices of all ages to gain important skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need. This will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of all involved, from star apprentices to skilled learning providers.

“I’d like to congratulate all the finalists announced for this year’s event and wish each and every one all the best for the future.”

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