Somerset County Council has linked up with one of the UK’s leading training providers and a fast-growing care company to help ease the industry-wide staffing crisis in residential care homes in the region.
The Council is helping to fund the training of 14 new apprentices to support care home provider Harbour Healthcare.
Harbour Healthcare has recently acquired care homes in Chard and Taunton and already owns three other care homes in the South-West.
The company had been facing a shortfall in the delivery of its apprenticeship programme due to limits on the number of new learners it could enrol on training programmes each year.
However, apprenticeship training provider Realise has been working with Harbour Healthcare to help bolster its apprenticeship offer through the ‘Gifted Levy’ programme, reaching an agreement for Somerset County Council to donate £42,000 to help directly fund the training of 14 Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices.
Businesses or organisations with an annual wage bill in excess of £3 million must pay 0.5% of their payroll into the Apprenticeship Levy each year, while smaller employers who are exempt from the Levy can start up to 10 new apprentices annually.
The Gifted Levy scheme allows Levy-paying employers to gift payments they don’t use on their own training programmes to help supplement apprenticeship training with another business.
Lesley O’Connor, National Account Manager for Health and Social Care at Realise, said: “Apprenticeships can make a huge difference to businesses in all sectors but particularly in health and social care where recruitment and retention of staff has become something of a challenge.
“Companies struggling to meet their apprenticeship requirements through the normal channels can pursue a Gifted Levy approach and that has worked extremely successfully in the case of Harbour Healthcare.
“They have more than doubled in size in the last two and a half years and that has increased the importance of attracting, training and retaining staff.
“Somerset County Council has been fantastic in stepping forward with a Gifted Levy donation and that has made a huge difference to Harbour Healthcare.
“Importantly, it will also help protect and enhance vital care services in Somerset and the wider south-west and ensure care homes are staffed by a dedicated, qualified and trained workforce.”
Councillor Liz Leyshon, Somerset County Council Executive Lead Member for Finance and Human Resources, said: “I am delighted the Council has been able to make use of the Gifted Levy initiative in this way and help fund the training of more than a dozen new care apprentices.
“This funding will make a real difference by creating rewarding job opportunities for these apprentices and supporting Harbour Healthcare to provide a valued service, delivering a high standard of care for the residents of local care homes.”
Harbour Healthcare has 20 care homes across the UK offering services including residential, dementia, nursing, mental health and end of life care.
Simon Nettleship, Recruitment Business Partner at Harbour Healthcare, said: “We are hugely grateful to Somerset County Council for gifting Apprenticeship Levy funds to support our training programmes.
“There is no hiding recruitment has been difficult throughout the sector so apprenticeships – and the career pathway, management progression and investment in people that brings – are a crucial part of our recruitment strategy.
“The Gifted Levy funding from Somerset County Council is being used exclusively for our apprentices working in the south-west region so will support learners in that area, in turn enhancing our five care homes in and around Somerset as we continue to rebuild after Covid.”
Working in care can be hugely rewarding and offers the chance to make a real difference in people’s lives. To find out more information about jobs available in the local care sector, visit www.proudtocaresomerset.org.uk/jobs.
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