In 2020, the Government made significant additional funding available to vocational education. The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF), and the Apprenticeship Boost Fund were welcome news for the health and wellbeing sector which continues to experience workforce shortage challenges.

Radius Care provides residential aged care with 23 facilities across New Zealand. The organisation has been innovative in developing a programme that utilises the apprenticeship boost funding for thirty-two of their staff who are now enrolled in an apprenticeship.

General Manager People and Culture, Marg Paramore, was instrumental in setting up these initiatives that recognise their people across their facilities. “I wanted to give everybody the opportunity to ‘have a go’ and realise their potential, aligned to areas of our business where we can help them thrive.

“The funding has meant a number of our team can get really strong qualifications that perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to have access to before. The qualifications will stand them in great stead and enhance them further in their roles.”

With support from Industry Training Organisation, Careerforce, Radius already had staff completing the standard Level 2, 3 and 4 New Zealand Certificates in Health and wellbeing. The new funding allowed the organisation to also offer higher Level 4 Apprenticeships.

“This felt like a real step up,” says Marg. “I like the way the apprenticeships focus not just on how you care for and interact with our residents, but also on areas such as leadership qualities, self-reflection, their own personal health and wellbeing – things that will help them thrive as a person while simultaneously leading to a benefit for our residents.

“We’re trying to be a bit creative in the ways that we allow people to achieve their learning.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to do online training. You can feel isolated as you are effectively by yourself. So, I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to learn in a way that suits them best.

“We’ve set up a WhatsApp group, and have networking groups so individuals can connect, collaborate, and bounce ideas off each other. We’re also working with both internal and external experts our apprentices can link in with to broaden their experience. Apprentices who are further through the programme are also able to share their experiences with those are just starting out.

“Each apprentice has an assigned mentor, for example, one of our Registered Nurses. They are an internal ‘go to’ person who can be a sounding board and offer a different perspective and help each learner grow. There is a benefit for the mentor too as they have the opportunity to gain leadership skills through doing this.”

“I want to make sure staff have the skills they need for their career journey. When they eventually move on from Radius Care, I want them to feel they’ve made a difference to our residents and their families, and also that together, we’ve made a difference for them personally.”

The Government Apprenticeship Boost provides a wage subsidy to employers of apprentices of $1000/mth for apprentices in their first year, and $500/mth for apprentices in their second year, up to $16,000 for each apprentice they employ.

At Radius Care, an element of the apprenticeship boost funding goes to the apprentice to support them while they study. It is recognition for the hard work they are putting in, and to acknowledge that they are taking a step up from the standard levels 2 and 3.

“An element of the funding also goes to the mentor to acknowledge the time they are giving to support the apprentices,” says Marg, “There is still a lot of work being a mentor. Activities coordinator, Danielle Bradley who is one of our apprentices often meets with her mentor before she starts work to go through what she’s studying.

“The balance of the boost funding goes to a Learning and Development fund that we set up for each site with an apprentice. This is used for development initiatives for the wider team via a group workshop on ‘people skills’, or perhaps for staff who want to learn and grow but on a different programme. For example, we might reward someone who completes their Cleaning Level 2 and 3 qualifications. We want everybody to have the opportunity to develop, and where appropriate, to get a qualification.

“Giving people an opportunity to learn and grow, and get some recognition, seems to be working really well. Danielle has really gained confidence which is fantastic. She is completing her Diversional Therapy apprenticeship, and is doing brilliantly. This is an opportunity for her to get a qualification, and set herself up so that if there is a Diversional Therapy role going, she is the first person in the queue and can showcase her skills. She can share her skills in Diversional Therapy but also leadership.”

Danielle says “no one had ever backed me like this before or gave me the opportunity. I never thought I’d be getting involved in something like this. It definitely takes effort, but I am really enjoying it. Some people have said they‘ve seen me really step up which is great.

“My Careerforce Apprenticeship advisor is good at checking in with me each week, making sure that I was okay with what I am doing and making sure I am on the right track, as these are level 4 so they can be difficult at times. She always made me feel like I could ask her anything, whether it be big or small.

“I never did believe in myself to start so I feel that I have grown not only as a person but as a Diversional therapist – I am excited for my future, but I also want to thank Radius for getting behind me, especially Marg.”

Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Nicki Lishman says “It sounds as though you make a huge difference in the work that you do. The fun and creative events you organise, and your ability to operate from a place of empathy and compassion while also having the courage to speak up when things are not right, also show ability to lead.”

Marg says, “We are largely Government funded and so to be able to utilise the apprenticeship boost funding has been huge and has supported our apprentices and the wider team to learn. When you see the impact it has on individuals, to get inspired to do their jobs and offer superior care, and the impact it has on them personally, it’s pretty amazing. I feel grateful to be a part of it.”

The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF), removes enrolment fees from Careerforce Health and Wellbeing programmes through to December 2022. Apprenticeship Boost was launched to encourage employers to retain and to take on new apprentices, and is available until August 2022

The Careerforce apprenticeship is a well-supported, workplace training programme. To support the initiatives that Marg has put in place, a team of dedicated and nationwide Apprenticeship Advisors also provide pastoral care and support.

Find out more about the Apprenticeship in Community Facilitation specialising in Diversional Therapy: https://www.careerforce.org.nz/qualifications/apprenticeship-in-community-facilitation-strand-specialising-in-diversional-therapy/

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