Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, 2021

Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH)

Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) wins ‘Employer of the Year 2021’ at this year’s YMCA Apprenticeship Awards.

RDaSH operates services in 200 locations across Rotherham, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire. The trust employs over 3,700 staff and more than 200 committed volunteers. Around 115,000 people access their services each year including those seeking support with mental health and learning disability services as well as seeking community services, such as district nursing and health visiting.

YMCA Training and RDaSH have been working closely for about 2 years.

The value of apprenticeships

Andrew Parker, Head of Learning and Development for RDaSH explains that “supporting apprentices in the organisation is fundamental to the growing of our workforce.” He continues:

“A lot of our learners have been out of study or education for a number of years, so by supporting them through the apprenticeship programme it helps to develop their confidence, it gives them new confidence and skills. It helps us grow our own workforce, where we might have some shortages within our current workforce – it helps [staff] with their career progression as well, it puts them on a career path to a future job.”

The YMCA and RDaSH partnership

The work RDaSH do with YMCA is mostly to support staff working in a non-clinical capacity within the Trust. Over the last 2 years, this relationship has developed, broadening the offer to RDaSH staff into new sectors and growing the number of learners on the training programmes.

Andrew Parker, Head of Learning and Development for RDaSH credits the strong partnerships between YMCA and RDaSH for the apprenticeship programmes successes – even through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. He goes on to explain,

“The last 10 months has been unprecedented, Covid, and the impact it has on learning and development and education. We’ve seen a number of courses that have been suspended or have been delayed because of Covid. But we’ve managed to continue our relationship with YMCA during this period. YMCA have been really helpful in terms of delivery… online working, one-to-one sessions, weekly catch-up meetings to make sure that apprentices are on-track to finish – and just that overall support to the organisation.”

Fiona Carter, Head of Skills for Central YMCA, explains that RDaSH won this award because they “represent what every apprenticeship provider and apprenticeship learner is looking for, an organisation that gives their staff the opportunity to grow and thrive.” She continues:

“The theme for Apprenticeship Week 2021 is Build the Future, and that is what RDaSH do very effectively for both their apprentices and their organisation. Despite the significant barriers and impact of Covid-19 their support for their apprentices has been unwavering and stayed up the top of the list of priorities, which is an accolade in itself. We value our partnership with them greatly and very much look forward to continuing to play a role in their workforce development and the ongoing celebration of their apprentices success.”

Making career progress

For RDaSH, apprenticeships have been useful in supporting their staff (some of whom who have been in the Trust for a long-time) to progress into new roles whilst gaining formal qualifications.

Many staff learners have been promoted because of the training they have completed; it has opened new avenues of work for them. Natalie Lazzari, an RDaSH apprentice says that she would “100% recommend anybody within RDaSH to take up a training apprenticeship programme with the YMCA.” She continues:

“It’s given me so much confidence. You get so much support from your mentor all the way through. You are able to progress and you are able to have the confidence to go further within your career.”

Award winners

Reflecting on winning the ‘Employer of the Year’ award, Andrew Parker, Head of Learning and Development for RDaSH says:

"One thing that I would say about RDaSH is that we’re not very good at celebrating our success. So, when I received the notification that we had received and won this award I was delighted for the organisation, I was delighted for Learning & Development, and more than anybody I was delighted for the apprenticeships who achieved qualifications. What I want to do is celebrate this across the Trust, celebrate this across the locality that we operate our services in – but also use it as a real selling point around how we can develop our own workforce and look at future opportunities for our workforce by supporting them to do an apprenticeship programme".