Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have impacted thousands of businesses over the past few years, but one industry that has been arguably more affected than others is that of the health and social care industries.
One solution that is proving invaluable in its attempt to tackle the recruitment crisis is the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme, which provides school leavers and those looking for a career change an opportunity to learn on-the-job skills and gain national qualifications, alongside earning a wage.
Chloe Paterson, 23, from Pontypridd, has completed her Level 2 & Level 3 Diploma in a Health and Social Care Apprenticeship, and now works as a Daytime Support Social Worker. She said:
“I was initially inspired to consider a career in social care after struggling to form a bond and communicate with my autistic brother. I decided to take up a pathway course at Coleg y Cymoedd to learn more about disabilities and I soon realised that I wanted to pursue a career that helped individuals and families to build upon their relationships with others.
“My apprenticeship not only helped me to decide what I wanted to do in my career, but it hugely benefited me personally and taught me how to socialise and interact around disabled people – something that many people struggle with and should try to improve upon.”
After leaving school, Chloe knew that further education wasn’t the right path for her and decided an apprenticeship offered the practical and hands-on experience she had been craving.
Chloe said: “School wasn’t really for me, and I often lost interest in my subjects, but I’ve found my apprenticeship much more manageable and engaging because they allowed me to train while earning money at the same time.
“I definitely preferred learning while on-the-job. It was so useful being able to ask questions to experienced staff members when I had assessments and essays, rather than always studying independently. It helped to build my confidence as I wasn’t afraid to ask questions or ask for help and advice.”
Having carved a successful career in social care since completing her apprenticeship, Chloe is looking forward to continuing working in an industry and role that is bettering the lives of those she supports.
Chloe continued: “The aspect I love most about my job is how rewarding it is. Watching individuals achieve things that they didn’t think they could and watching them leave with a smile on their face makes it all worth it and reassures you that you’re in a worthwhile job.
“Without a doubt, my apprenticeship has motivated me to improve day on day and I think my achievements demonstrate that. Over the past five years, I’ve gone from being a student and completing two diplomas, to being a permanent member of the team, and finally being promoted to my current role as a team leader.
“I’d highly recommend an apprenticeship as a route to a career in social care because of the experience you gain while working towards a qualification. The social care industry is in need of new talent, and people who are willing to care and motivate others. Working in this industry really does feel like you’re working alongside a tight-knit family, and you’ll always go home knowing you helped to enhance the life of an individual.”
Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Apprenticeships are a genius decision, for both employers seeking to future-proof their workforces while nurturing the talent that exists within Wales, and for people who want a proven route into employment that provides the opportunity to learn while earning a wage.
“Apprenticeship Week Wales is an opportunity for us to increase awareness and engagement with apprenticeships in Wales, and shine a light on the opportunities available to people right now.
“I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic. That’s why we have committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country, but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “It is fantastic to see the impact a social care apprenticeship has had. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn more about the sector, grow in confidence and ignite someone’s passion to help and support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We need more people to follow in Chloe’s footsteps and I encourage others to take up an apprenticeship.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. To explore what apprenticeship opportunities are currently available in Wales, visit the Apprenticeship Vacancy Service.
For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit www.gov.wales/apprenticeshipswales or call 0800 028 4844.