Care sector’s image of being ‘low skilled’ is damaging to recruit young people, says national care provider


A major care provider group has spoken out against referring to care workers as ‘low skilled’ saying it is damaging the sector’s ability to attract young people.

Speaking at the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference, Brendan Kelly, managing director of Heathcotes Group said: “It annoys me that care workers are constantly referred to by the government and media as being ‘low skilled’. They are not.

“Care workers require a wide range of skills, including medical knowledge, finance and budgeting, dynamic risk assessment, positive behaviour support and food hygiene to name just a few. Calling them low skilled is impacting on recruitment in the sector and turning off school leavers from entering the profession.”

The company, which is headquartered in Chesterfield, has plans in place to double employees from 2200 to 4500 over the next four years.

At the conference, which was organised by Chesterfield Borough Council, Placing Futures, D2N2 Enterprise Advisor Network and Destination Chesterfield, Kelly also revealed that the Apprentice Levy had driven a culture change in apprenticeships within Heathcotes Group.

He explained: “We are using the Levy as a tool to develop the workforce rather than viewing it as a tax. Older workers are using apprenticeships to upskill which is enabling us to plug skills gaps. However, our priority remains to recruit young people to the care sector.”

Heathcotes Group has partnered with national apprenticeship training provider Learning Unlimited Group to jointly introduce sector-based work academies offering short courses, including Health & Social Care qualifications and employability skills.

The partnership has produced some exceptional results for Heathcotes with an 82 per cent increase in apprenticeship starts between 2013/14 and 2017/18. Heathcotes’ achievement rates are also well above national average: 74 per cent for Health & Social Care roles, compared to 66.9 per cent nationally, and 68.8 per cent for Care Leadership & Management compared to 63.8 per cent nationally.

In Business & Administration Heathcotes’ rate is 100% compared to a 71 per cent national average.

Since 2013 the Heathcotes Group has recruited nearly 600 apprentices. In an effort to further increase local apprenticeship participation, Heathcotes Group has recently joined Chesterfield Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, which is part of the Apprentice town initiative.

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