“I’ve worked in several roles – from mechanic through to timberman – but working in care is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had”
A former timberman from Neath is encouraging more males to consider a career in care after the time he spent looking after his niece inspired him to undertake an Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care.
According to Social Care Wales, men make up less than one in five (16.5%) domiciliary care workers, so there is a real opportunity for males to plug the skills shortage and take up a rewarding career in social care.
One way the sector is successfully working towards employing new talent is through the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme.
Josh Bendle was inspired to complete his Level 2 Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care after deciding he wanted to change career paths in his twenties.
He said: “Before my apprenticeship, I worked as a timberman and although I enjoyed the job, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. It wasn’t until I cared for my niece that I realised how much I enjoyed looking after others and wanted to explore a new job that I would find more rewarding. So I decided to change careers and started working in childcare, and later adult care, looking after people of all abilities.”
Despite starting his apprenticeship mid-way through the pandemic, Josh explains that it hasn’t had a detrimental effect on his work-based learning, and he’s been able to build upon his existing skillset.
He continued: “My understanding of the industry has improved massively since starting my apprenticeship and I’ve learnt how to help enrich the independent lives of others in all different aspects of care – from the elderly and those living with dementia right through to younger tenants with learning difficulties.
“My apprenticeship has not only benefitted me professionally but also personally in so many ways. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in primary school and since starting my apprenticeship, I’ve been properly assessed so I’m fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve even been given a reading pen that has a built-in dictionary and helps me to articulate my words. The support I’ve received has been incredible.”
Though Josh says the pandemic hasn’t negatively impacted his work-based learning, he’s seen first-hand how disruptive it has been for those living in care.
“Sadly, the virus has stopped loved ones from seeing their friends and family, which makes my role as a carer all that more important. It’s really satisfying helping people and seeing what a positive impact the tiniest of things I do on a daily basis can have – whether it’s helping someone walk to the seafront or engaging in a short conversation.
“Throughout my career, I’ve worked in several different roles, but this is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone considering starting a new job or looking to change their career. As well as the tailored support, the combination of working and learning allows you to be financially independent while studying for a qualification.”
Josh now wants to inspire more men to consider a career in social care.
“Looking forward, it’d be great to see more men taking advantage of the incredible opportunities available in the social care sector right now. Having a good gender balance in the workforce is really important when it comes to delivering the best quality care for patients. For example, some male patients prefer to have male care workers supporting them with their personal care, or they might be more likely to open up to me about their health issues which is really important when it comes to understanding their needs and how we can provide the best care.”
Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Apprenticeships are a genius decision, for both employers seeking to future-proof their workforces while nurturing the talent that exists within Wales, and for people who want a proven route into employment that provides the opportunity to learn while earning a wage.
“Apprenticeship Week Wales is an opportunity for us to increase awareness and engagement with apprenticeships in Wales, and shine a light on the opportunities available to people right now.
“I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic. That’s why we have committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country, but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “It is fantastic to see the impact a social care apprenticeship has had. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn more about the sector, grow in confidence and ignite someone’s passion to help and support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We need more people to follow in Chloe’s footsteps and I encourage others to take up an apprenticeship.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. To explore what apprenticeship opportunities are currently available in Wales, visit the Apprenticeship Vacancy Service.
For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit www.gov.wales/apprenticeshipswales or call 0800 028 4844.