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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Practical skills the way forward for care sector

Written by Care Appointments

In whatever sector you work, employers are looking for people with transferable skills so that they can bring more than just academic qualifications to the work place. This is especially the case in the care sector, where ‘soft’ skills such as team work, communication and problem solving are integral to the work they do.

Practical education charity, ASDAN, has been pioneering experiential learning for 30 years and delivers a range of awards and qualifications for candidates aged nine – 85.  ASDAN in Scotland works closely with schools, colleges and training providers as well as the care sector.  

The charity has seen an ever-increasing demand for courses such as CoPE (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness) which recognise the practical skills that so many employees are looking for.  The CoPE course encourages young people to take responsibility – it’s all about them and they have to think and reflect on their work, not just follow the teacher’s notes. This increases their confidence and their work ethic making them a great asset to any workplace, especially those within the care sector.

The CoPE qualification is levelled into the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and ASDAN’s Employability qualification will soon be included.  This will help employers understand the level of the qualifications and the formal recognition of skills.

The Employability qualification is used by schools , colleges and training providers to provide recognition of those skills that employers are looking for – maintaining work standards, communication skills, working as part of a team, customer care, problem solving, Health and safety. The qualification is for generic transferrable employability skills not specific occupational areas.

There have been a number of ASDAN candidates who have taken part in work placements in the care sector to provide them with the skills, experiences required for the industry and providing a good starting point for embarking on programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships.

By offering real life, relevant training and the chance to develop transferable skills, the new diploma, Modern Apprenticeships and courses offered by organisations like ASDAN, prepare young people for life in the real world.

If young people can say in a job interview that they have had experience working in a team or researching a project, for example, they will be at a distinct advantage. Being able to give real life evidence of their skills will prove be hugely attractive to future employers, as it proves they will be able to ‘hit the ground running’.

Once example of a putting modern apprenticeships to good use is award winning care company, Hendra Healthcare, as Managing Director, Vince Burmingham explains,

"Practical learning is essential for preparing care sector employees. Having worked in care sector management for 11 years, I’m well aware that investing in my workforce is key to achieving success. In the current economic climate, it’s important that the sector recognises the benefits of developing effective staff teams in order to survive and grow.

"By giving staff the chance to take up initiatives such as the new diploma, apprenticeships, Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland and courses offered by organisation such as education charity ASDAN, their talent can be nurtured and their knowledge and skills developed.  

"Employing apprentices provides businesses with raw talent which can be nurtured and developed into highly dedicated and loyal employees with the knowledge and skills to meet and address the challenges and opportunities which can occur in the care sector field.

"Apprentices have brought some great new ideas to the company and challenged the way in which we’ve done things, allowing us to respond and improve.  For example, we’ve changed some of our operating procedures and introduced new facilities for the residents. We now have a Nintendo Wii and a webcam so they can keep in touch with family members living abroad. All of these initiatives improve the quality of service which we deliver to our residents.

"Fifteen people have been through our apprenticeship programme and we have three taking part in it at the moment. Our former apprentices have developed enormously and the programme is a key part of our staff planning and promotions. One former apprentice has completed a degree in Health and Social Care, and will be starting a nursing degree later this year, as a direct result of the confidence she gained whilst undertaking her apprenticeship with us.

"For our business one of the benefits of taking on apprentices is that we can mould them into our ethos of care and evidence of this is shown by the fact that Hendra House not only retained its 'excellent' rating but also achieved excellent ratings across all seven of its key outcomes at its most recent key inspection last month.

"As an employer I get a real sense of pride from investing in apprenticeships as I’m also supporting the community by helping to reduce youth unemployment and recruiting locally to develop skills in my local area.

"With apprenticeships, young people gain qualifications whilst in a working environment and earning a wage. This is a real incentive for many people who thrive in practical learning situations and are given the opportunity to develop their skills. The support of businesses and employers can give people opportunities they may not have otherwise had and many apprentices progress further with their qualifications, following their apprenticeships."

The care sector is a specialist industry that relies on the skills of its dedicated staff to achieve results. Employees are so much more than just the qualifications they have achieved – they need to have the practical skills necessary to succeed.  That’s why securing staff who have taken part in practical learning can be so beneficial for employers.

Related Links

Skills Development Scotland runs the Modern Apprenticeship scheme in Scotland.  For more information please visit;

ASDAN is one of the country’s leading skills-based accreditation bodies.
For more information on ASDAN awards, courses and qualifications please visit;

Hendra House is a leading care provider and established family run residential home. For more information visit