Flexible learning initiative offers care workers chance to develop new skills in South West

Devon County Council is to give health and social care workers and job seekers wishing to enter the profession the chance to learn new maths, English, care and IT skills.
Varied shift patterns and irregular hours can make it difficult for health & social care staff to attend regular training and courses. This can limit their progress and prevent people from reaching their potential
Flex to Learn offers a new approach based on flexible study times. It forms part of the council’s Proud to Care campaign, aimed at attracting more people to the health and care profession by encouraging them to see it as a rewarding and worthwhile career choice.
The new course will take on approximately 300 people, 100 in Devon, during the first year and follows a joint bid with four other councils for £410,539 of Department for Education funding.
The courses will be run by Learn Devon, Devon County Council’s adult education service, Skills and Learning Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole and Somerset Skills and Learning.
The courses will be delivered on behalf of the Borough of Poole, Bournemouth Borough, Dorset County Council, Devon County Council and Somerset County Council.
The award will be used to digitalise course content, to buy laptops, to set up a virtual learning platform and to train tutors, learning coaches and classroom mentors. These resources will be available to suit the needs of the learner and the sector they work in and will mean that the courses can be studied to suit the individuals.
The courses on offer will be English, English for Speakers of other languages (ESOL), maths, care and IT. They will be available to job seekers who want to enter the profession and existing social care and health staff in both the private and public sector.
This includes staff in care providers, residential and nursing homes and in the NHS. A pilot course will begin from June with the course rolled out across the three areas from September.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the adult social care, said: “Through schemes like Flex to Learn we are demonstrating that health and social care staff are highly valued, that the sector presents great opportunities for progression and self-improvement and that we are prepared to invest in their personal development.”
Councillor Stuart Barker Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for skills, economy and Learn Devon,  said: “We recognise that there are many people in the sector who want to learn new skills but may not have the opportunity. Flex to Learn has been specifically designed to suit shift workers, those who have caring responsibilities and those who are preparing to return to work. A more skilled workforce leads to improved wages and ultimately a stronger economy.”

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