The extent of job opportunity and apprenticeships in the health and social care sector, which specifically targets disadvantaged and unemployed young people aged between 16-25 years in the UK, bears testament to the strong collaborative partnership between the Prince’s Trust and Health Education England. Tangibly, this has reached over 2,000 young people with half of these going on to secure employment in health and social care sectors (1)
In January 2020, The Prince’s Trust launched their Health and Social Care Partnership in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care. This four year partnership strategically aims to provide 10,000 young people with apprenticeships and entry-level jobs within the health and social care sector via processes of awareness raising of the sheer breadth of career opportunities available, creation of employment opportunities, and provision of high quality and individualised mentoring and career coaching. Over 150 collaborative partners are currently supporting the scheme (2). Despite the pandemic, over 240 young people have been offered jobs within the health and care sector to date. The Partnership has embraced digital innovation and is restarting work experience programmes in hospitals and care settings in order to keep momentum despite the pandemic.
In September 2020, the Prince’s Trust commissioned a report aimed at understanding the impact of the pandemic on young people (3). The representative sample of young people fitting the demographic of the Prince’s Trust audience, selected for inclusion in the study i.e. disadvantaged backgrounds, revealed that more than one third of young people have abandoned their aspirations for 2021, with a significant number of these responses from young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). 41% of respondents stated that future goals may not be achievable, 38% felt that success in life will prove difficult and 1 in 3 felt they had lost hope with respect to the future. A subsection of the sample who were currently studying in educational settings reported fears that missed education would prevent progression in careers and employment and felt under pressure as a direct consequence of the impact of the pandemic on their usual environments (3).
The impact of COVID-19 was found to have a negative impact on young people’s mental health. Over 25% reported feeling unable to cope with life, 65% of participants felt that not being able to secure employment was a source of anxiety and 56% felt panicked when contemplating the prospect of looking for work. Having a job was perceived by 67% of those in the study as having a positive impact on mental health health(3). Clearly, the pandemic is taking its toll on the nation’s young people, in particular those who may also be from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are unemployed. Understanding and knowing there are employment opportunities in the wider health and social care sector both presently and in the future, may contribute to allaying these fears, and offer hope to a generation who are experiencing a fundamentally unique and unanticipated situation and which also may not necessarily have the adaptive resilience skills that other age groups have developed as a consequence of coping in such circumstances.
There are an exponentially increasing number of jobs in the adult social care sector, with correspondingly significant career opportunities. It is estimated there are currently over 1.4 million people working in social care, and by 2035 there will be 580,000 vacant positions (4). Many of these lie within the residential care home sector, where there is an acknowledged high turnover of staff, but a nevertheless ongoing demand. This is reflective of increasing numbers of elderly patients within the UK population. The rewards of working within a care home environment are not well known to those who have not experienced this, and more work needs to be undertaken to raise the profile of not only employment, but career opportunities within the sector.
The Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care Partnership may offer a solution to increasing the visibility of and promoting employment opportunity, which potentially affords people careers for life in care homes, within this potential future workforce. Unlike the NHS where there is a dedicated recruitment website and clear entry and eligibility criteria, the routes into employment within care home settings are not always clear or easy to navigate for a young person interested in exploring the breadth of opportunities available in our sector.
The Prince’s Trust Partnership may offer an innovative way of increasing the visibility and value of working in care homes and has a long history of engaging with young people who are actively seeking experiential learning through placements and wanting to secure long term employment. This could positively contribute to filling existing vacancies in the care home sector and planning for the future health and social care workforce demands..
The Prince’s Trust is actively seeking opportunities to discuss the potential of collaborative partnership engagements and to engage with organisations who could offer additional apprenticeships or employment opportunities to young people across the UK.
How care home organisations can get involved :
To become a delivery partner and work with The Prince’s Trust supporting young people; Please contact Prince’s Trust staff by geography
To discuss opportunities to philanthropically invest in passionate young people looking to get in to jobs in the sector contact Nicola.Cobham@princes-trust.org.uk
Dr Yitka Graham, Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, Mark McArdle, Managing Director, HMC Group, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nicola Cobham, Kat Farram, Prof Catherine Hayes, Professor of Health Professions Pedagogy, University of Sunderland, Sunderland
The Prince’s Trust and Health Education England. Forging a new alliance between young people and the NHS. London: The Prince’s Trust; 2020.
Trust TPs. The Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care Partnership Digital Panel. London The Prince’s Trust; 2020
Trust TPs. The aspiration gap. London: Prince’s Trust; 2020.
Skills for Care. Working in adult social care Leeds: Skills for Care; 2020 [Available from: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Careers-in-care/Think-Care-Careers.aspx.