Martin Farrow and Victoria Bryant show how apprenticeships have impacted young lives and benefited business
Adult social care is facing unprecedented change which is challenging the sector to be innovative and create new ways of working. At the same time, we continue to care for some of our most vulnerable in society.
Despite the budgetary constraints and shifting political landscapes, change can bring about great things. It can stimulate new ways of working and at Buckinghamshire Care we are embracing this fresh approach.
As a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) for Buckinghamshire County Council we are facing the challenges head on and looking at new ways of working.
Our aim was to launch a company where sustainability meets purpose; where we could enrich our clients’ experience whilst giving our teams the support and tools needed to excel. Our vision is to create opportunities that make a positive impact.
Today, we support thousands of adults both at home and in the community through day opportunities centres, supported employment schemes and respite services.
We support those with a learning disability and or those requiring mental health and well-being support, adults living with autism, people with sensory, physical and cognitive impairments and older adults including those with dementia and other long-term complex conditions.
Our organisation is fundamentally about the people we support and those who provide that support, so for us, delivering award winning services means that we need to attract great people to join us, flourish and make a positive impact.
We also believe that it is important to challenge the stereotypes sometimes associated with the jobs people with disabilities can do. The part apprenticeships play in this is key.
We launched our apprenticeship programme with a view to specifically employing individuals, usually excluded from the employment market – those with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues. Apprenticeship opportunities have arisen in a range of different work areas including: garden maintenance, catering, support work and administration.
Our programme is targeted towards those that experience disability and is focused on developing skills and employment training prior to accessing the open employment market. Our success comes from our staff teams, who are specifically trained to support individuals with behaviours that may challenge mainstream employers.
Seeing our apprentices driving maintenance vans, handling powers tools and preparing their food emphasises the important part those with disabilities can play in the workplace and in society; it challenges traditional thoughts, and that is what our organisations aims to do every day.
We are investing in skills for the future and our teams have already made a positive impact within the organisation and the community: our employment programme has supported over 200 vulnerable people into employment.
Our initial goal to employ people with a disability to deliver externally provided commercial services has been achieved. This is a first for our organisation and from this learning we are developing our own training academy, over 20 marginalised people are now on paid contracts within Buckinghamshire Care.
Our organisation was founded on the principle of creating opportunities, which make a positive impact, so we were delighted to be recently awarded the EDF Energy Newcomer SME of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards in recognition of our commitment to developing young people through apprenticeships.
When you support and mentor people in a way that suits individual need and aspiration you can make a real and tangible difference. With the right support and guidance we have seen young and vulnerable adults flourish, gain independence, grow in self-esteem and ultimately gain meaningful employment. It’s never an easy path to take but nevertheless it’s worth taking every step because the end result can be better than anyone ever imagined.
Buckinghamshire Care won the EDF Energy Newcomer SME of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards.
Dental nurses play a key role within dental practices but there has been a shortage of dental nurses across the UK over the past few years. We recognised this skills gap and introduced our apprenticeship programme for two reasons: firstly to safeguard against the loss of skills across the industry and secondly to futureproof recruitment at our own company.
Our organisation is committed to developing apprenticeships for young people across the country. We chair a Trailblazer Group in Dentistry and work with Trailblazer groups to develop apprenticeships within the Dental Laboratory sector and Dental Practice industry.
Over the last year we have supported the development of an apprenticeship in Dental Practice Management and have further developed the current Dental Nurse apprenticeship. By working with employers and training providers in our local area we can ensure the apprenticeships meet the needs of the dental industry.
At the centre of our apprenticeship programme is the recruitment of apprentices into apprentice dental nurse roles. We have put apprenticeships at the core of our recruitment strategy, focusing on apprentice dental nurse roles. As a result we have apprentice dental nurses in every one of our 24 dental practices with multiple apprentices at larger practices.
Our apprentice dental nurses are treated as part of the practice team and the Genix family straightaway. These apprentices have the opportunity to build a career with us. A number of our apprentices have progressed to the level of practice manager with us.
We have also witnessed great retention rates of apprentices with 75 per cent staying in roles after qualifying.
Last National Apprenticeship Week 2015 we offered an opportunity for an apprentice to experience a ‘week in the life of’ during which one of our apprentices spent a week shadowing our managing director, Mustafa Mohammed.
The apprentice accompanied him to events throughout the week including a dinner with John Major, meeting local MPs and attending management meetings. We like to ensure that wherever possible we provide apprentices with opportunities outside of their standard training.
In the last 12 months we have increased the uptake of apprentices into the business. 39 per cent of our workforce is represented by current and former apprentices and we hope to increase this to 45 per cent by April 2016.
We have found that the recruitment of apprentices into our business has brought numerous benefits, not only to the organisation but also to the individuals who work within our practices. They bring a new dynamic to the workplace and colleagues frequently comment that apprentices bring new blood and life into the team.
Ultimately, we believe that the mix of apprentices with our more experienced colleagues provides us with a great team dynamic, and has contributed to reductions in our labour turnover figures. Between 2011 and 2015 we witnessed a reduction in our labour turnover of 4.5 per cent.
We set up our apprenticeship scheme with the aim of helping to eradicate skills shortages faced by our business and the wider industry, apprenticeships have delivered above and beyond what we expected. We remain committed to the continued development of our apprentices and are determined to blaze a trail for apprenticeships across the dental sector.
Genix Healthcare won the The EON Medium Employer of the Year Award at the National Apprenticeship Awards.
1st photo caption: EDF Energy Award for Newcomer SME of the Year. (L-R) Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Martin Farrow, Buckinghamshire Care (WINNER), David Drury, Campus Chancellor, EDF Energy, Nadhim Zahawi MP.
2nd photo caption: The E.ON UK Medium Employer of the Year Award. (L-R) Sue Husband, Dave Newborough, HR Director, E.ON UK, Genix Healthcare Ltd, Affan Mohammed (WINNER), Nadhim Zahawi MP