Alder Hey trainees

GMLPF funds pioneering project to help younger people work in the NHS

Merseyside teenagers will be the first to obtain a new certificate in healthcare, qualifying them to work in a paediatric setting

Pioneering course set to attract young people into nursing, helping balance the ageing workforce of the NHS

A dozen unemployed young people have completed a four week work placement at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool as part of a longer training Key to Apprenticeships programme funded by Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF). When they graduate, the teenagers, all aged 16-18, will be the very first in the UK to hold a new qualification for providing health care support to children. There has been an unprecedented demand for future places on the course from young people, many of whom are recent school leavers.

Easing burden

The initiative was the brainchild of Gill Mason, principal of GMLPF member, Alt Valley Community Trust, which runs a ‘Communiversity’ in the Croxteth area of Liverpool. It was conceived as a way to encourage young people to work in the NHS. Almost a third of workers in the NHS are aged 50 plus and the average age of an NHS health worker is set to rise to 47 by 2031. The crisis is spurred on by the pressure of the working environment forcing many into early retirement. Getting younger people into careers in the NHS has been identified as a way to ease the burden.

Three times as many young people applied for the course than the number of places available. The successful applicants have been training for six months in total, including the work placement at Alder Hey. Successful completion means the teenagers will be the first in the UK to be awarded a certificate in Health Care Support in the Paediatric Setting from CACHE (Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education).

Targeting unemployed young people

The funding to complete the training was targeted to those in the NEET category (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Elliot Quine (pictured), from Croxteth, was the youngest person on the course at just 16 years of age; he was joined by other teenagers from across Merseyside.

When the teenagers graduate it is expected that they will go on to either full Apprenticeships at the hospital, further training such as nursing or another job within the NHS. Their progress will be monitored to assess the longer term impact and to inform plans to roll out an expansion across the UK.

Alt Valley Community Trust has joined forces with Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool to deliver the practical elements of the course; whilst in the classroom recruits have been skilled up in everything from English and Maths to personal confidence.

Unlocking potential

Gill Mason says: “We are using vocational education and training to unlock potential and give young people a valuable role in society. There are more than 300,000 support staff in the UK, assisting doctors, nurses and other health professionals in caring for the sick and injured. Until now there has been no specific training for those doing such a job with children”.

Unique standards

There are 24 children’s hospitals across the UK that could benefit directly from the qualification. Paula Davies, Learning and Professional Development Manager at Alder Hey says: ‘Alder Hey prides itself in the delivery of learning initiatives which support excellent care for our children, their families and carers. We developed this qualification at the trust because we know that care of children and young people in whatever setting they are in should be underpinned by unique performance standards. These unique standards have never existed until now. It is great to see that by widening participation for learners from Alt Valley within our work-based learning environments and through implementation of the new standards we have all made a significant impact on both their future aspirations and career choices.’

Oversubscribed

Each week Alt Valley is receiving dozens of enquiries from schools and students who want to know more and the next course is already over-subscribed. Mason adds: “The interest in this course means that we have seen an unprecedented number of enquiries. Potential future students – especially those who don’t want to stay on in full time education – see the qualification as an alternative to college or sixth form”.

James Glendenning, CEO of GMLPF that funded the initiative, says: “Overwhelmed hospitals have seen staffing requirements increase and budgets fall. Whilst many solutions are mooted, few see the light of day. This grass roots initiative is designed to give young people, who would otherwise have been unemployed, a taste of working in the NHS and a massive boost to their career prospects.”

Julie Hyde, Executive Director at CACHE added: “CACHE developed this qualification in partnership with Alder Hey specifically to prepare learners with the knowledge, understanding and skills to cover a broad spectrum of care responsibilities in a paediatric setting. It’s fantastic to see that Alt Valley Community Trust is receiving so much interest from young people aspiring to gain the CACHE Level 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Healthcare Support in the Paediatric Setting.”