Cheryl McKown, Apprenticeship Manager at Bupa BGUK, said: “We’re really proud of our Apprenticeship Programme and the way it’s grown since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017. Last year we invested 84% of our available funds, and now have more than 1500 apprentices across our business, with 80% in really important customer-facing roles, such as our dental nurses and care assistants.”
Bupa is a member of the 5% club - a group of companies committed to having 5% of their UK workforce as apprentices, graduates on formal programmes, or sponsored students – and was the first healthcare member of the group when it joined in February 2019
Cheryl continued: “We’re already exceeding our 5% target, with 7% of our workforce currently made up of apprentices. Our apprentices are really important to Bupa, helping to grow a pipeline of talent and filling skills shortages within in our organisation. For example, a big focus for us in 2020 is recruit people to fill IT and data skills gaps.”
As well as growing its programme, Bupa is also committed to sharing best practice and contributing to industry through apprenticeships. Bupa has made the decision to ‘gift’ some of its apprenticeship levy to support small businesses in local communities.
Cheryl said: “We recognise the introduction of the Levy had an impact on small to medium businesses. During 2019, we pledged £9,000 of our levy to support SMEs and in 2020, we’ve pledged a further £25,000.”
One of the recipients is Dentaid, a charity which works in more than 70 countries providing dental treatment, training, equipment donations and oral health education. Andy Evans, CEO of Dentaid said: “As a charity we feel it’s important to offer opportunities to hardworking, talented young people who understand the benefit of our work and can have a positive impact on our organisation. We are very grateful for Bupa’s support which means we can invest more resources into our projects in the UK and overseas while offering an apprenticeship that is mutually beneficial for our apprentice and Dentaid.”
In addition to gifting, Bupa is committed to being a great ambassador for the Apprenticeship Levy and sharing best practice around our apprenticeship programmes for the benefit of others. Cheryl offers these tips to organisations wanting to grow their apprenticeship programmes:
1. Get buy in from your organisation: We govern our investment via an Apprenticeship Board made up of senior leaders from across our business. This means we align our programmes to strategic priorities and really understand the business needs. Identify senior leaders and champions throughout the business to talk about apprenticeships and generate interest.
2. Build a community for your learners: Having someone for your apprentices to contact is essential. Through planned events we encourage our learners to support one another along their journey. Committing time to learning whilst you work takes planning, and we support this with a structured approach to on programme management and learner engagement.
3. Create strong partnerships with learning providers to track progress and continuously improve delivery methods: Particularly in a large, geographically dispersed organisations, they can provide insight into how best to deliver for learners and customers.
4. View it as an opportunity to give back: Apprenticeships are a tool to provide equitable learning opportunities to a diverse range of people, they give people a choice. Investing in your people shows you believe in them. Look beyond your organisation to see how you can contribute to industry through involvement with trailblazer groups and your community by gifting your levy to smaller employers with a need.
Bupa currently has vacancies for a number of apprenticeship programmes. If you’d like to know more, visit our career pages.