The COVID pandemic has created difficulties across the world, with demands for the healthcare sector rising like never before. The UK has seen the NHS workforce pushed to its limits, with healthcare professionals working longer hours, growing staff shortages and greater demands for training due to new policies and procedures in place to help cope with the pandemic.

Skills for Health completed a survey in June 2020 of over nearly 3000 frontline staff, senior managers and others within the healthcare sector. The report Covid-10 Workforce Report 2020 has revealed ‘training requirements have risen but the pressure put on staff during the pandemic is to be working not learning, therefore many training courses have been suspended.’

22.7% of respondents reported skill losses as a result of COVID in their organisations, this has been for several reasons, including staff leaving due to increased pressures or some taking early retirement resulting in a loss of experienced and highly skilled staff. In some cases, staff have also had to take time off work due to contracting the virus, with some sadly passing away.

This is where the NHS must come up with a solution to mend the skills gap, whilst maintaining social distancing and keeping costs down. The introduction of Zoom calls or similar and remote learning has become the ‘norm’ for those whose training has continued and almost all those who are able to work from home, are now doing so the report confirms, whilst other centres have increased shifts and working hours. Some also reported ‘COVID related communications have been provided and use of eLearning has increased.’

How can training providers help?

There are four different levels of NHS apprenticeships available, covering everything from Nursing to Administration staff.

Apprenticeships are a great way to either upskill current staff, or gain new talent within the business for a small fee. The bonus of a healthcare apprenticeship vs. university is that the learners are in the sector working from day 1 – an instant boost to day-to-day staff in the workplace, which especially now would be a favourable choice for those centres and hospitals searching for additional staff.

Training providers may have several students who are looking to work for the NHS, so making sure these learners have an excellent CV to show off which showcases their skills is vital. Once they have their CV sorted, ensuring this is sent to as many prospective NHS opportunities is essential.

As a training provider, do you have any unskilled learners who may have been furloughed from their healthcare jobs? These may be the perfect candidates to put forward for NHS opportunities where they can continue their apprenticeship in a hospital environment.

Adapt to technology! Whilst most training providers now use an e-portfolio and other software to deliver training, some aspects or all within certain companies are still done on paper. Now is the time to embrace technology, whether that be teaching over a Zoom call or assessing using a virtual learning environment.

What about the future?

There will always be a need for healthcare workers, whether this is Nurses, Doctors or Receptionists at hospital front desks, which means the NHS offers a great opportunity for many to work.

Now more than ever, the NHS needs staff, and with apprentices the future of the workplace, there never has been a better time to apply. To find out more about apprenticeship vacancies within the NHS, click here

You can find our guide to NHS apprentices here