South Tyneside College is to play a key role in a new partnership to boost the skills of hundreds of employees at the UK’s largest mental health trust.
It has been selected by Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to provide part of a package of support to upskill some of the trust’s 6,000 staff.
Working as part of Tyne Coast College, created last year from the merger of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College, in North Shields, it will do so for at least the next two years.
The college’s specialists will work with counterparts at Sunderland College, which was also chosen by the trust to be a joint partner in the project.
The initiative will support employees at over 60 of the trust’s sites across South Tyneside, Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland.
Central to the training initiative is the delivery of the Mental Health Pathway of the Level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship.
Julie Sloanes, Assistant Principal and Strategic Lead for Apprentices at Tyne Coast College, said: “Through South Tyneside College, we have longstanding and in-depth experience of delivering outstanding mental health provision.
“Many of our assessors have worked in the NHS, often directly within mental health services, and have a wide and important understanding of how academic learning applies to the workplace.
“Tyne Coast College enjoys an already strong and highly effective relationship with Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust around health and social care provision.
“The training we are delivering to the trust’s mental health workers is an exciting opportunity to build on that while developing important employee skills.”
The course is a new apprenticeship standard, a type of targeted training being delivered as part of the government’s ongoing national apprenticeship reforms.
The reforms aim to create an additional three million apprentices by 2020 so that the UK is more internationally competitive.
Rules mean any employer with a payroll above £3m must pay the new apprenticeship levy, money which they can then draw down to train staff.
The trust is one of the first organisations to upskill its workforce using this specific apprenticeship standard, developed with input from health sector specialists.
Marc House, Head of Training Academy at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At NTW, we’re always looking for new ways to offer opportunities that improve outcomes for our service users, meet the needs of the organisation and offer real development pathways to staff.
“We are pleased to be working with two excellent colleges to support our health care support workers to access these opportunities.”
Iain Nixon, Executive Director for Commercial Activity at Sunderland College, said: “Sunderland College are experts in providing training to the healthcare sector.
“We already have an established relationship with Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and we’re delighted to be delivering such a specialised training programme to their staff, which meets the specific requirements of the Trust.”
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health, learning disability and neurological care services.
With an annual £300m budget, it works with partners to deliver support to people in their own homes, and from community and hospital-based premises.
Joanne Cowan, a Peer Support Worker who has been employed by the trust for over three years, has joined the apprenticeship programme.
She said: “As soon as I heard that the trust was offering the chance to study this qualification, I was really keen to be involved.
“It is a great opportunity for me to develop my skills and learn more about the principles and theories of mental health care.
“Achieving the Level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Worker will enhance my future career prospects at the trust.”