Bath College has been awarded £40,000 worth of government funding to kick-start a new care academy, designed to link students with local employers.
The funding, awarded by Health Education England, will pay for an academy coordinator and specialist equipment for practical sessions.
Health and social care students will learn how to use equipment in a dedicated space, set up with hoists and hospital beds to prepare them for working with people in their homes.
They will also benefit from a new structure of training and work placements, provided by local employers partnering with the Bath Care Academy.
Following the launch of the Care Certificate in March 2015, employers must make sure new starters meet an identified set of standards before they can work with patients.
The Bath Care Academy aims to make sure students complete the Care Certificate as part of their training and are ready to work in the health and social care sector.
Esther Williams, Head of Sport, Leisure and Care, said: “Health and social care for us is a huge growth area, with 210 students currently studying health and social care at the college.
“What we are doing is aligning our curriculum with the needs of local employers. The health sector is the largest employer in the West of England, providing 72,400 jobs, and we want to work with employers to ensure that our students are studying programmes that adequately prepare them for those roles.
“We’ve set up a healthcare network to strengthen our understanding of the needs of our partners, which include the Royal United Hospital, Way Ahead Care, Dorothy House Hospice and Sirona Care & Health.
“We have recognised a need to develop a more structured placement system for students, so they can experience a number of the wide-ranging roles in the sector, and gain an understanding that better prepares them for a job.
“The Bath Care Academy coordinator will help us to create a programme that matches learners to organisations, and acts as a pipeline to send students into local employment or apprenticeships on completion of their course.”
Health and social care students met employers signed up to the Bath Care Academy on January 12, as part of an employability day. They took part in a networking lunch and attended sessions with employers to learn about opportunities available with each company.
Nardina Storey is from the learning and development team at Bath RUH.
She said: “We’re trying to engage a younger workforce. In today’s society it’s recognised that we need to invest more in young people. They call us an older workforce, but we’re trying to change that. We’re showcasing work experience opportunities that we can offer young people.”
Karen Gleave, from Sirona Care & Health, said: “It’s about trying to give people different opportunities.
“They’re not just going to one work placement, so they’re able to make better choices. It’s about giving back to the local community as well, supporting young people onto apprenticeships and career pathways.”