Looking after people at every age and every stage
People working in health & social care or childcare fulfil many different roles, but it all comes down to helping those in our society who often need it most. That includes the elderly, those with health problems or learning disabilities, and young people (or their families). It can be a difficult job, but also a rewarding one.
Types of Apprenticeship
This part of the health sector has a few Apprenticeships available. Programmes include Health & Social Care, Children & Young People’s Workforce and Healthcare Support Services.
About the Health & Social Care and Childcare sectors
The UK healthcare sector as a whole employs more than two million people. Some are in direct contact with patients and the community – doctors, nurses, carers – while others support the service as whole, doing more administrative work. Needless to say, the entire sector is vital to the country, our wellbeing and even our economy: a healthy country is more likely to be a prosperous one.
What Can I Do?
The NHS is one of the greatest social institutions on the planet and a large number of people working in Health & Social Care will be employed by it. But it’s not the only option, as you might also work in the private sector, for your local authority or perhaps for a charity.
Your exact role will depend on which strand you follow. A social care role might involve helping people in the community, such as the elderly, disabled or people with learning disabilities. You could be visiting them at home, cooking for them, helping them complete tasks around the house or perhaps transporting them; or you could be helping people in residential homes and specialist care centres.
Health care workers are more likely to be in hospitals or private clinics. Again, you’ll be helping people but their needs and conditions might be different. This strand is more about supporting doctors and nurses or taking care of patients directly, doing things like making and serving food, cleaning wards or taking care of paperwork.
Childcare professionals do just that: care for children. While some of this is about playing games (hurrah!), it’s also about supervising children and young people at school or nursery, helping in playgroups, offering childminding services and generally contributing to children’s development.
There are various career-specific skills you’ll need for the various jobs available. Healthcare support workers might need strong literacy and IT skills if they’re in administrative roles, for example, while childcare workers will need to know how to engage with children of varying ages and abilities, and how to keep them safe.
Similarly, health and social care professionals will need some clinical skills, a good understanding of the human body and health issues, and know all about hygiene. They’ll also need to be great communicators, again with strong literacy and IT skills.
All of these skills can be picked up and developed, but above all else what you’ll need is a caring, compassionate attitude. The ability to listen to people of all ages, stay positive and make their days better is vital, so think carefully about whether or not it’s for you.
Here are some of the jobs available in health & social care and childcare:
healthcare support worker
night care assistant
mental health outreach worker
substance misuse worker
early years worker or assistant
assistant youth support and community worker
nursery teaching assistant
Once you’ve got some experience and further qualifications you can move on to more senior roles such as team leader, supervisor and manager.
To find out what’s available near you, visit careermap.co.uk and search for vacancies. There are lots of useful sources of further info too:
Routes into the healthcare sector include:
Vocational qualifications / A Levels
National Diplomas and Certificates
Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs)
Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
If you’d like to boost your chances of getting accepted onto an Apprenticeship, consider volunteering for a local organisation or charity in the sector that interests you. They’re always looking for help and it’s a great way to get skills, boost your confidence and give something back to your community.
Earn and Learn
Careers in health & social care and childcare are often quite practical and hands-on, so while you can study at university (which is definitely the right option for some people), you might find that the learn-on-the-job approach of a vocational qualification such as an Apprenticeship is the best way to get into the career that interests you.
As an apprentice you’ll work with an employer to get workplace skills, as well as studying at college to get some technical skills and qualifications. You’ll also be paid throughout your Apprenticeship, which makes it a much more affordable way of training in some cases.
Levels of Apprenticeship
There are generally two levels of Apprenticeship offered in these areas. The one you choose will depend on your previous experience and qualifications:
Level Two – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Level Three – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
A level two Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve level three. If you don’t have the qualifications you need yet, a Traineeship can help fill in the gaps in your learning.
Life as a Health & Social Care or Childcare Apprentice
In health & social care roles you’re likely to be on a shift pattern, which means your days could start early in the morning or late at night, depending on your exact job and the people you’re looking after. During your shift you might be in people’s homes, at hospital, working in admin departments … there’s a lot of variety. You’ll definitely be in a team though, and working under the close supervision of an experienced mentor.
Childcare roles will tend to be more focused around daytime hours, probably starting early and finishing in the late afternoon. You might be in a nursery when parents drop children off and collect them, and spend the day keeping them occupied (and safe) with different activities, from active play to reading.
Make no mistake, these are hard jobs that will bring you into contact with challenging people and situations: you might need to dress and undress patients, help them go to the toilet and dish out medicine; or you could be on the receiving end of tantrums and bad behaviour from children (or their parents).
However, you’ll be paid, you’ll be gaining qualifications at college and learning to be independent with your time and money, and many people in healthcare love the knowledge that they’re helping people and trying to make the world a better place. It’s an important job.
You could work in…
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in health & social care and childcare near you at careermap.co.uk