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Thursday 22 November 2018

Summit 2018: “Apprenticeship model not working”, says workforce chief

By Matt Ross


Photo: Stefano Cagnoni
Caroline Corrigan told delegates the NHS's performance on race equality was “just not good enough”.

Changes to the government’s apprenticeship levy scheme are needed to boost the number of NHS employers hiring apprentices, NHS Improvement’s national director of people strategy told MiP’s Members Summit.

Speaking to MiP members on 6 November, Caroline Corrigan said “apprenticeships come up time and time again” in responses to the NHS’s consultation on the Workforce Strategy for England, which she said would be published in December. “The model is not working in its current form: how do we improve that?” she added.

Asked by national committee member Jeremy Baskett why employers aren’t using the system, Corrigan pointed to “problems with the model and the rules across government departments about how you access the levy”.

About £200m of apprenticeship levy funding is available to NHS employers, she explained, but only £20m is currently being spent. The rules have recently been improved, she said, and some organisations have managed to draw down all of their entitlement. But “we can do better, whilst going round nationally banging on doors, saying: ‘You do realise the NHS could deliver more of your apprentice-ship target if you could unlock some of these rules?’ It’s a rules-based issue, not employers or individuals saying it isn’t the future.”

The consultation’s other key findings, she said, include the needs to improve staffing numbers and to strengthen international recruitment to make up for a shortfall in home-grown supply. And on racial equality, she said, the message was that the NHS is “just not good enough. We’re calling it out more effectively, I think, but we’re hearing that we need to be better.”

Corrigan told delegates that the NHS is to hire a chief people officer and that, once they’re in post, “I might be banging on the door for a chief happiness officer”. She added: The message is: treat people well. That’s how you deliver productivity and a better work-life balance, and how we solve the prob-lems that face us now and in the future.”

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