Date published: 19 March 2022
Highfield Hospital, Rochdale
Local healthcare and education businesses, as well as charities, could benefit from a share of £100,000 to train staff and help ease the chronic shortage of healthcare workers.
Circle Health, the UK’s largest private healthcare group, said the money it was gifting would go to firms that successfully applied from local communities around its hospitals, including Rochdale’s Highfield Hospital (where 13 staff are themselves currently on apprenticeship programmes).
Circle’s donation comes from its Apprenticeship Levy, something all employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m contribute to, with the total amount set by government at 0.5% of their annual pay bill.
Businesses contributing to the levy can then choose to spend it on training for staff or to gift it to other businesses.
If the money is not spent it goes to the Treasury, with over £250m returned last year by levy-paying employers.
More than 500 people have gone through Circle’s apprenticeship programme in the last five years, with staff qualifying in roles ranging from nurses, physiotherapists, and diagnostic radiographers, to electricians, theatre staff, and hospital managers.
David Cooper, Chief People Officer at Circle Health Group, said the firm’s own programmes had been successful in building talent at all levels of the company and that helping businesses and charities in the local community do the same was a “win-win”.
“Using apprenticeships to give people new skills and preparing them to do the roles the healthcare industry needs – while still doing their day jobs – means we can fill gaps in a way we simply can’t otherwise,” he said.
“There are lots of healthcare and education companies, as well as charities, that are local to our hospitals and either can’t get the skilled workers they need or can’t get the funds to train up their existing workforce.
“At the same time there’s lots of people who want to get into healthcare, or who are already in the industry and want better skills and more opportunities but can’t.
“For example, the idea of going to university for years to train to be a nurse is completely out of reach for some people,” David added. “They may not be able to afford the fees or their circumstances may mean they can’t afford the time. But with an apprenticeship they can get the same qualification without having to go through that hardship.
“So much potential, energy and enthusiasm is getting lost,” he said. “Using our Levy, we can help ease these problems by helping people train while also doing their day job.
“That eases the pressure on the healthcare sector and means patients get a better service – it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Companies looking to apply should visit: