LCR Apprentice Ambassadors Get Their Heads Round Mental Health

Apprentices from across the Liverpool City Region are set to become champions for mental health in the workplace. 

In September 12 LCR apprentice ambassadors will attend a specifically designed course. They will be skilled up to raise awareness of mental health issues with their colleagues including other apprentices. GMLPF will pay for the course as part of their GMLPF Minds programme that has gathered pace thanks to a cash injection from the National Lottery Community Fund

The training will focus on how to spot mental health issues early. Through learning about the trigger factors that adversely affect young people it is hoped participants will be able to raise awareness of common mental health challenges and how to get help. To do this effectively, participants will be drilled on the dos and don’ts around mental health.  

 

Mental health champions

The ambassadors will also take a pro-active stance. A main focus of the training is to give them the confidence to champion mental health awareness in their places of employment. The interactive session is geared to define and promote understanding of the issues.

The one day course is the brainchild of 3D Training. Director, Gill Abbots, says: “There are a host of trigger factors in the modern world that impact the mental health of young people. From social media and gaming to finances and addiction, issues need to come to the surface early. This can be aided by banishing any stigmas about mental health in the workplace. It’s important to remember that pressure to complete an apprenticeship can also have an impact on mental health.”

 

Growth in mental health issues amongst apprentices

The course is part of the GMLPF Minds programme that throws the spotlight on the mental health and wellbeing of apprentices and other learners in the Liverpool City Region.  Ian Lomas, Chief Executive of GMLPF says:

“Our research reveals the rapid growth of mental health issues among apprentices and other learners. It also has a big impact on the employees of our member organisations.  There simply aren’t enough professionals qualified in mental health and it’s impossible to plug that gap quickly. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, we can offer this course as a small but significant step to promote awareness and help curtail any taboos. A realistic expectation is to reduce the likelihood of learners falling through the net.”

 

Apprentice involvement to encourage open discussion about mental health

Melanie Dodd, from the LCR Apprenticeship Hub that coordinates the apprentice ambassador network, says: “The challenges of mental health are growing at an alarming rate. It’s not something that can be ignored or swept under the carpet. Getting apprentices involved lays the groundwork for more acceptance and open discussion of mental health issues in the workplace.”

The Mental Health Foundation has published figures around mental health problems at work. More than one in every seven people experience problems in their job with more than ten percent of sick days attributable to mental health conditions. These concerns have led to GMLPF confirming that they will run additional training programmes for GMLPF members soon.

GMLPF secures funding to extend mental health support programme for learning providers

GMLPF is pleased to announce it has been successful in its bid for Lottery funding via the Awards For All (A4A) programme to extend its mental health project tailored to support providers of apprenticeships.

Research among GMLPF members conducted late last year revealed that at any time up to 30% of their apprentices and learners are suffering with their mental health. This can eat up an average of 40 staff hours each month. On average each provider faces more than eighty mental health incidents requiring intervention each year.

Our research showed that many learning providers wanted some sort of formal training in mental health awareness. So as a first step GMLPF linked with AT Skills and Active IQ to launch a Mental Health Awareness and First Aid training course which ran in January and February this year.

 

Mental health a barrier to participation

The AT Skills delivered course ran over 2 days and awarded a Level 2 qualification to successful participants. Asset Training, North West Training Council, Lite Ltd, St Helens Chamber and Halton Council all sent staff on the course.  The delegates were well drilled in mental health first aid and how to signpost individuals in need to sources of professional support.

The successful Lottery bid means that GMLPF are now able to carry out more detailed research into the scale, nature and impact of mental health issues on apprentices and other learners, as well as provider staff. In particular the research will look at the extent to which mental ill-health is a barrier to participation in learning programmes and its impact on achievement levels.

 
Mental Health Ambassadors

In addition, the A4A funding will allow GMLPF to make its mental health training programme available to a wider audience of learning provider staff in its membership base. Furthermore, the project will see the launch of a pilot mental health first aid course for learners that helps them improve their understanding of mental health with a view to them becoming mental health ambassadors. Finally GMLPF will develop a portfolio of online resources and useful materials for learning provider staff to access to keep up to date with the latest mental health policy and practice

Ian Lomas, CEO of GMLPF said

“We’re very grateful to the Awards For All programme for supporting this important project. It’s clear that mental health is as critical an issue in the vocational sector as it is in schools. This funding will allow us to continue our work to understand exactly how mental health impacts on the delivery of programmes like apprenticeships, and to equip our members with the professional skills and expertise to support students.”

 

gmlpf members on level 2 mental health training

GMLPF shines spotlight on apprentice mental health in Liverpool City Region

It’s clear that the mental health of young people in the UK is causing increasing concern.  Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show evidence of ill health whilst 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Consequently we are seeing more schools prioritising student wellbeing. Indeed this is already an area of focus for Ofsted.

 

Mental health impacts on training delivery

However, there is little coordinated support from Government to support young people who leave school at 16 to enter apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes. And arguably the stress these individuals face is higher as they get to grips with the transition from school to the workplce. Evidence suggests many learning providers feel swamped by the increasing incidences of mental ill health in their students. GMLPF members have told us this is having a direct impact on the delivery of their programmes

 

Mental Health First Aid

Research among GMLPF members reveals that at any time up to 30% of their apprentices and learners are suffering with their mental health. This can eat up an average of 40 staff hours each month. On average each provider faces more than eighty mental health incidents requiring intervention each year.

Our research showed that many learning providers wanted some sort of formal training in mental health awareness. So as a first step GMLPF linked with AT Skills and Active IQ to launch a Mental Health Awareness and First Aid training course which ran in January and February. 

 

Level 2 Award

The AT Skills delivered course runs over 2 days and awards a Level 2 qualification to successful participants. Asset Training, North West Training Council, Lite Ltd, St Helens Chamber and Halton Council all sent staff on the course.  Director of AT Skills Alan Reddin outlines what the objectives of the programme are:

“We have specifically designed the course to help training providers. They learn to boost awareness and understanding of mental health.  We equip staff to identify signs and symptoms, risk factors and treatments for the most common mental health problems.  Ending discrimination can only happen through knowledge.”

The delegates were also well drilled in mental health first aid and how to signpost individuals in need to sources of professional support. Harriet adds:

“Through discussion and group activities, we tailor the course for providers of apprenticeships and other training. They leave with a good grasp of the particular mental health issues experienced by apprentices and adult learners. We also spent time considering the mental health challenges encountered by learner-facing staff.”

 

Pinpointing Issues

During two days at GMLPF offices in Liverpool, the participants pinpointed real life scenarios.  A range of hot topics were debated. The staff particularly wanted to know about striking the right balance between making adjustments for learners’ mental health and encouraging them to challenge them by building resilience.

Pavlina Kiakides of GMLPF who completed the course explains some of the issues tackled during the two days’ training:

“There were lots of opportunities to explore different providers’ practices regarding the development of resilience in learners.  So for example, when a learner self declares a phobia of public transport what strategy should be adopted? Should the provider accept they can’t travel and find them a placement/apprenticeship close to home? Or focus on helping the student overcome the phobia? We also realised that the roles of different parties involved in delivery of training need clarifying. The responsibilities of employer and provider in supporting mental good health in apprentices must be agreed at the start to stop people falling through the net.”

 

Raising Awareness Across The Region

An emerging theme was that provider staff often need support; it is not just an issue for students.  

The course was a culmination of a project by GMLPF that set out to raise awareness of the issues. The groundwork for getting to this point was the extensive research conducted among our members. The introduction of the course is timely as mental health of apprentices and other young people has moved up the agenda of skills challenges facing the Liverpool City Region.

Research among members reveals students are affected by issues such as anxiety, stress and lack of self- belief. And 83% GMLPF members responded that mental health issues are on the increase.

And since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, it seems that employers may be inadvertently adding to apprentices’ stress levels. Because employers hold the funding themselves, they are taking a keener interest in seeing good levels of achievement. Further pressures come from all kinds of sources; students cite social media and lack of support at home.

 

The Future

Only ten places are available on each course. We will be announcing future dates soon and in the meantime the following is just some of the positive feedback we have had so far.

“The course covered a wide & varied subject matters discussed which will be useful for personal and professional application”

 “Great awareness of mental health first aid, signs and symptoms and discussions around apprenticeships”

 “The whole programme was excellent as it provided a robust range of information, skills and knowledge which I am able to put into practice and share with colleagues and learners”.

 “The programme was perfect, professional, highly informative and educational. An excellent programme which enabled me develop personally and professionally”.

Apprenticeship Support & Knowledge (ASK) for Schools Update

GMLPF is delivering the ASK programme (Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge) this year in Halton, Liverpool, St Helens and Sefton. Jan Agger, who is working for GMLPF on this project, has been visiting schools in these areas to deliver activities which improve students’ and teachers’ understanding of Apprenticeships

At the end of Quarter 1 (August to November), GMLPF had engaged with 19 schools, of which 9 had not previously participated in the ASK programme. This suggests that schools are increasingly interested in understanding more about Apprenticeships.

 

Over 2000 school pupils have benefited

To date, GMLPF has delivered 31 information and activity sessions in schools to a total of 2229 students, 96 teachers and 122 parents. In addition, we have helped 364 individuals register onto the Find An Apprenticeship service portal.

Looking forward to 2019, GMLPF will be targeting schools who haven’t participated, showing their year 11 to 13 students how to register on the national Find An Apprenticeship website and apply for opportunities. We will be capitalising on the promotional opportunities presented by National Apprenticeship Week 2019 and forthcoming regional Skills Shows.  

 

Specialist schools

We will also be targeting specialist schools to ensure  their students have access to Apprenticeships information and support. This ties in with other work GMLPF is doing to address SEND issues.

Metro Mayor and Sefton Council leader with GMLPF Board

Skills providers are key drivers of economic success in Liverpool City Region says Metro Mayor and Council Leader

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Cllr Ian Maher Leader of Sefton Council and LCR Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills both highlighted how the combined authority and regional skills providers can work together to tackle skills gaps in the city region, at an event last week.

The Metro Mayor and the Sefton Council Leader specifically recognised and gave due credence to the critical role of skills providers in the future prosperity of Liverpool City Region. They were both speaking at a special briefing event organised by Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) for its members last week.

Andy Fawcett, executive director of Greater Manchester Provider Network was also a key speaker at the event at the Royal Liver Building held to focus attention on the role of the skills provider in delivering devolution.

Committed to working with skills providers

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Ensuring that our residents have the right skills to prosper in the 21st century economy is a key priority for the Combined Authority, and we are committed to working closely with skills providers to ensure that happens.”

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Devolution has given us greater powers around skills, not least through responsibility for the Adult Education Budget.  Whilst we are working within a local, regional and national market, it is really important that we have a strong and vibrant local provider base that is meeting local needs.”

Important step

Almost 100 skills provider representatives attended the event on Friday. The session was welcomed by all as an important step to ensuring employers and learners are supported in ways that help the local economy flourish.

GMLPF is a membership organization representing over 70 Apprenticeship and skills providers in Liverpool city region. Their mission is to drive the prosperity of Liverpool City Region by building a foundation of skills for economic success. They do this by supporting the evolution of education and skills providers to meet local and national priorities, for the benefit of individuals, communities and businesses in the region.

Partnership approach

Ian Lomas, chief executive of GMLPF said

“Friday’s event has further strengthened dialogue between decision makers within Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and skills providers, enabling a partnership approach to mapping priorities and opportunities for the delivery of skills following devolution.

“We are very grateful to the Metro Mayor and Cllr Maher for sharing their vision and committing to ongoing dialogue with our members, who are at the coal face of skills delivery in Liverpool City Region. We are also grateful to Andy Fawcett who shared the experience and perspective of providers in the Greater Manchester area.” 

ian lomas speaks to members at agm

GMLPF AGM

GMLPF held its 14th Annual General Meeting last week at The Hallmark Hotel on Sefton Park, attended by 60 guests from regional learning providers, and featured three key speakers: Mike Firth (ESFA), Bev Barlow (Ofsted) and Julie Byrne (LCR Combined Authority)

Mike Firth ESFA

After a brief overview of the annual report for 2016/17 by CEO Ian Lomas and chair Debbie Tagoe, the morning’s programme commenced with an update from Mike Firth, Head of Intervention, ESFA. His presentation focussed on several key areas including an outline of changes within the ESFA, namely the new territorial teams who are responsible for overseeing the FE provider base from October 2018. They will be responsible for assessing risk, managing key budget performance and supporting vulnerable providers. Mike spoke about the internal and external factors that can impact on providers’ financial success or failure.

Mike’s presentation also featured an overview of T-levels and its positioning in relation to Apprenticeships and other post 16 choices, which produced lively discussions amongst members. In response to a request by Ian Lomas prior to the event, Mike dedicated the final part of his session to gaps in provision and market entry.

Download Mike’s slides

Bev Barlow Ofsted

Bev Barlow, Senior HMI, Ofsted, provided an update for members featuring a review of inspection outcomes for Liverpool City Region FE providers. Key issues identified through inspection for LCR providers include off the job training (Apprenticeships), development of new skills and knowledge (Apprenticeships), English and Maths (Study Programmes), levels of challenge (Study Programmes), work experience (Study Programmes) and progression and destinations (Study Programmes). Other issues are listed on Bev’s slides.

Bev also gave an update on the process for inspecting Apprenticeships and new providers, and overviews on future policy and the Education Inspection Framework 2019.

Download Bev’s slides

Julie Byrne LCR Combined Authority

Julie Byrne, the final speaker at the GMLPF AGM, gave guests a useful breakdown of the priorities laid out in the LCR Apprenticeship Growth Plan. Her presentation also provided Apprenticeship start statistics for the region, and considered the challenges facing employers and how the LCR Hub/Combined Authority are addressing these.

Download Julie’s slides

Ofsted workshops a great success

In response to demand from members, GMLPF recently held two Ofsted workshops. The first, Ofsted for Beginners was designed for learning providers who are Ofsted novices including:

  • those who are new on register of training providers, either new to the industry or former sub-contractors
  • subcontractors subject to inspection due to relationship with prime
  • staff in providers who are new or know little about Ofsted even though the provider has experience

The workshop was delivered by Jackie Shopland-Reed, Ofsted inspector and owner/director of Apprenticeship provider Lite Ltd. It focussed on types of inspection, what to expect from each, structure and components, how to prepare and other key areas.

The second workshop, Ofsted for Experienced Providers, was delivered by Ofsted inspector, Kath Townsley,  in association with QLS, and targeted those providers who had knowledge and previous experience of the Ofsted process. The workshop looked at

  • Recent changes to the Further Education & Skills Inspection Handbook
  • Key areas providers are tripping up on in inspection
  • Emerging themes

There was also the opportunity for delegates to get individual feedback on their SARs.

Both workshops were extremely well received with all delegates rating them as very good or excellent. The knowledge and training ability of both trainers was rated as excellent.

Offering two workshops for different categories of provider is reflective of GMLPF’s current drive to tailor our member services to meet individual organisations’ needs.

FIT UK help Michael start on ladder to bright future

12 months ago, Michael was unemployed and struggling to find work. He had a keen interest in the fitness industry however he found it difficult to find appropriate opportunities until he was introduced to FIT UK through Volair leisure trust in Knowsley.

FIT UK who work in partnership with Volair, were recruiting enthusiastic and motivated individuals interested in careers in the fitness industry, offering them a course to gain the the Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing, funded through the Adult Education Budget.  

Full time job

Michael did not hesitate to enrol onto the 16-week course. After he  completed the course, Alan Reddin, Business Development Director at FIT UK spoke to Volair about Michael, as he had proved to be an exceptional candidate. As a result, only a few weeks after Michael qualified, he was interviewed by Volair and offered a full time job as a fitness instructor. He is now gaining invaluable industry experience and will be progressing with FIT UK onto the L3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Personal Training.

Alan Reddin FIT UK Director said “Michael was an excellent student who just needed to be given an opportunity in an industry he was so enthusiastic about. Our tutor informed me of Michael’s ability, knowledge and understanding of the fitness instructor role, pointing out he would be an asset to any gym. This is why I approached Volair and asked them if they could offer Michael an interview. We are very pleased Michael has gained employment in an area he enjoys, and we will support him as best we can through this journey”.

Sysco announce Apprenticeship Award winners

GMLPF member, Sysco, recently announced their Apprentice and Employer of the Year awards. Apprentice of the Year is Kaitlyn Brown, a customer service apprentice with Kindfulness Coffee Club in Bootle, whilst Sysco Apprentice Employer of the Year is Adactus Housing Group.

Kindfulness Coffee Club are a small business based in Bootle who offer support to local individuals who are dealing with bereavement, mental health issues or struggling to make ends meet. They run a wide range of groups and services, such as Mindfulness and Walk and Talk, used by all ages that benefit emotional and social wellbeing. The café is quickly becoming a community hub and provides people with a hot drink and a friendly ear for their troubles.

Exceptional

Kaitlyn, pictured above with customers, has had an exceptional impact during the time she has been with the club. Due to her role being so specialist, her training was extended to include Safeguarding and Suicide prevention so that she can provide the right support to individuals who require it. Kaitlyn feels that her Apprenticeship “turned out to be so much more than a Customer Service certificate”.

Career progression

Employer of the Year, Adactus Housing Group, has recently merged with New Charter Housing Group to form a new organisation called Jigsaw. Several of their apprentices nominated them for the way they recognise and meet the needs of their apprentices, and for the career progression support they offer.