Health and social care workers in Birmingham are benefiting from free training to give them better qualifications and careers, thanks to a pilot scheme being funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The WMCA is funding the full cost of some higher-level health and social care courses at South and City College Birmingham to support the sector by upskilling key workers, following the unprecedented demands caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Learners will have the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications, which will help them to provide better care, develop their careers and gain vital skills for any future coronavirus outbreaks.
About 100 people are set to benefit from the training, which will last from 12 to 24 months, depending on the course.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Many health and social care workers don’t have access to the training they need to gain higher-level qualifications.
“This could be for financial reasons, or because their employers are unable to release staff for the off-the-job training required by an apprenticeship.
“We know that about 80 per cent of all jobs in adult social care are done by women , who are more likely to be in lower paid occupations.
“So I’m very pleased that we’re able to help local key workers to develop their careers and earn more money in this pilot project, which will benefit mainly women. We hope to be able to roll out funding more widely in the future.”
The courses are open to people working within the health and social care sector and are looking to progress their career or to those who are currently volunteering within the sector, to support them to move into paid employment.
The students will be able to gain Levels 3, 4 or 5 diplomas, which are key qualifications recognised by health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission.
The WMCA is funding the training through the devolved £126m adult education budget, which is aimed at equipping residents with the skills they need to gain new jobs or develop their careers.
The courses would only usually be available through an adult learner loan, a commercial agreement or an apprenticeship.
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “Our health and social care workers have shown amazing compassion and dedication to help vulnerable people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s crucial that we recognise their work and invest in the sector for the future.”
The courses being funded through this pilot scheme are a Level 3 diploma in health and social care, a Level 4 diploma in adult care and a Level 5 diploma in leadership for health and social care.
Jacqueline Maher, assistant principal at South and City College Birmingham, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the WMCA to enable more local people to gain vital qualifications in health and social care.
“We have had expressions of interest from a range of organisations, with 60 places already filled. It’s great to see local employers are still keen to develop their staff in these challenging times.”
Camilla Barrow, clinical education lead at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, which has booked places for ten employees, said: “To be able to offer our staff accessible training opportunities and achievable qualifications during Covid-19 has enhanced morale and offered inspiration in these difficult, sad times.
“We see education as one of our many responses to Covid-19, investing in our people and a brighter future.”
Residents can access links to new job opportunities and online adult education training by visiting the WMCA’s Covid-19 support site at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-support/online-resources/