Walsall College & Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

The College

Activate Learning

Walsall College is a further education college in the West Midlands offering full time, part time and higher education courses to over 7,500 students.

The college has an excellent reputation for the quality of its teaching and learning, its state-of-the-art facilities and impressive overall success rates.

The Employer

Based in the heart of the Black Country, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust is the main provider of hospital and adult community services.

Currently, the Trust serves a population of around 450,000 people from three hospital sites and sees around 500,000 outpatients every year.

The Partnership

Since 2007, Walsall College has been the key provider of apprenticeship recruitment, training and development for the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust. The partnership formed from the Trust’s desire to embed an employee-wide workforce development initiative that trained and upskilled staff in a way that was directly relevant to their roles. The Trust also developed an ‘Apprentice First’ strategy, where all entry level positions are considered for conversion to be recruited as apprenticeships. This was done to attract a wider pool of candidates and enhancing the appeal of these roles and working towards offering career pathways into the NHS.

Training has been completed by over 1,000 staff so far and is currently being delivered to 171 apprentices in programmes including management, pharmacy and medical administration ranging from Level 2 to 6.

The Benefits

This partnership is the biggest apprenticeship training partnership for the Trust and among local colleges, making it an excellent instance of an employer making a long-term investment in its workforce.

The college has been able to showcase the partnership’s many achievements – those of individuals as well as groups of learners – to other local employers and across the health sector as a whole. Representatives from the Dudley Group have also attended the college’s employer-led roundtable events and meetings where they have been strong advocates of the apprenticeship frameworks their staff have benefited from.

The main benefit for the employer is the college’s dedication to supporting the Trust. The college delivers training on site, with monthly recruitment and initial assessment sessions hosted to help provide the Trust with a steady flow of new recruits as well as signups for upskilling and developing existing staff.

When it emerged that some staff did not have the required levels of English and Maths suitable for some apprenticeships, the college delivered courses to upskill individuals in these areas, with some of them able to progress on to apprenticeship programmes and other areas of professional development. Thus, helping the Trust to further support their workforce.

What they say

Hear first hand from colleges and employers about their experiences.

I consistently produced high quality work throughout my level 3 apprenticeship, and on completion, secured a promotion as a Band 4 Discharge Facilitator. Whilst working in this role, I enrolled with Walsall College for the Level 4 - Higher Apprenticeship in Business an Administration and soon secured another promotion as a Band 6 Stroke Co-ordinator.

Whilst working on the Stroke Ward at Russell’s Hall Hospital in Dudley, I used the knowledge and skills that I had developed throughout my apprenticeship programmes to implement a vast number of improvements to the department. I’ve been self-motivated, enthusiastic and have been the driving force of the changes that were in desperate need to be made. Dudley Group of Hospitals Foundation Trust’s Stroke Ward has now been scored third best in the region to the point other hospitals want to know what we are doing so they can implement changes in their trust.

My learning journey has not stopped here. I am now completing Walsall College’s Degree Apprenticeship in Chartered Management (BA Hons) and have high aspirations for the future. I have taken on a new role as Assistant Directorate Manager for Stroke and Elderly care. As part of the degree, I am leading on projects to improve patient care within the Stroke rehabilitation and Frailty Unit.

Bal Lelli, a Walsall College Apprentice and Assistant Directorate Manager at Dudley Trust

We have worked with Walsall College for a number of years and continue to build a positive relationship with the team. We value the guidance and expertise they have provided for many aspects of our apprenticeship training. Their service is highly personalised. They have helped us analyse individual job roles and recommend the most suitable pathways for each person, which of course makes all the difference to their professional development.

The college team has been readily accessible on a number of occasions, responding to queries and resolving concerns swiftly and professionally. A two-way feedback process has been central to this. Our regular update meetings are a great way of ensuring effective communication, maintaining and building on the partnership and exploring opportunities for development

A highlight for us has been seeing our higher level apprentices attend Walsall College’s graduation ceremonies – a fantastic reward for their hard work and commitment to their studies.

Fran Hancock, Apprenticeship Programme Manager at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Want to know more?

For a collection of all the great case studies featured as part of the campaign, please check out our employer engagement prospects.

We’d also love to hear from employer about how Collab Group colleges can work with you to help fill your business needs.