14 September 2020

Up to £3,000 incentive payments for employers recruiting new apprentices

Last month the government announced a suite of incentives to help get the economy moving and help get people into work as part of its ‘Plan for Jobs’ announcement. Here, we outline how the new Apprenticeships Incentives scheme can work for Acacia Training’s clients:

What do the Apprenticeship incentives mean for you, as an employer?

Thanks to this new funding, employers we work with can now receive incentive payments for every new apprentice started between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021. The incentive payments can only be paid for new recruits (not existing staff) starting Apprenticeships between these dates.

How much are the Apprenticeship incentive payments worth?

  • £2,000 incentive payments for every new apprenticeship recruit aged 16-24. The existing incentive of £1,000 for 16-18 year olds also remains taking the total for this age group to £3,000.
  • For new apprentices you bring on board who are aged 25 or over, the incentive payment is £1,500 per apprentice.
  • The new apprentices must be new recruits joining your organisation (not existing employees) between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021.

How can Acacia Training help you recruit new apprentices and benefit from the incentive payments?

We provide level 2, 3, 4 and 5 apprenticeships, all of which can qualify for the government incentive payments mentioned above provided they are being offered to new recruits into your organisation. If you require the training for existing employees, funded training is available as normal (see below) but without the new incentive payments.

Which industries are the Apprenticeships available in?

We specialise in offering apprenticeships to employers in the Midlands, North West, and the M5 corridor. Our specialisms are:

  • Apprenticeships in Health and Social Care
    • Level 2 Diploma in Adult Care
    • Levels 3 Diploma in Adult Care
    • Level 4 Diploma in Adult Care
  • Apprenticeships and work-based qualifications in Leadership and Management
  • Level 3 Diploma in Management
    • Level 5 Leadership and Management in Adult care
    • Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Residential Childcare
    • Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Services or Children & Young People’s Management
    • Level 5 Diploma in Operational Management
  • Apprenticeships in Business and Customer Service
    • Level 2 Certificate for Customer Service Practitioners
    • Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration
    • Level 3 Certificate in Customer Services specialist

  • Apprenticeships in Early Years Education and Childcare
    • Level 2 Early Years practitioner
    • Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People’s workforce
    • Level 3 Diploma in Children’s Learning and Development (Early Years Educator)
    • Level 3 Teaching Assistant
    • Level 3 Diploma for Residential Childcare
  • Apprenticeships in Dental Nursing

    • Level 3 Diploma in The Principles and practice of Dental Nursing

Can I use Apprenticeships for my existing staff?

Yes, you can still access apprenticeship training for existing staff of all ages, with 95% (and up to 100% depending on certain criteria) of the cost of that training funded by the government if you are a non-levy employer. If you are a levy payer with an annual wages bill of £3m or more, your training will be funded from your levy pot (DAS account). Read the latest government guidance here. However, please be aware that although you’ll receive funding for the apprenticeships for existing staff, you won’t be eligible for the additional incentive payments for these.

How do I get started?

If you would like expert help, a no-nonsense approach and experienced apprenticeship advisors to guide you through the process, you’re in the right place! Please contact us to get started.


All information in the above guidance is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of posting (1 August 2020). However please
contact us to check for updates.

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Here at Acacia Training, it’s been very important to us to do all we can to help the health and social care sector adapt and increase staffing capacity in care homes as part of the response to COVID-19.

Skills for Care Funded Training

Thanks to funding from Skills for Care, we have now delivered our fully funded intensive training to employers at no cost to them, as part of the response to the pandemic in care homes.

This included assisting 44 care companies with rapid induction training for new staff, delivering four days of intensive online induction training for new recruits, volunteers and those returning to care roles.

Our team also provided important training for existing staff in a further 40 care settings, covering infection prevention and control, safeguarding, moving and handling, basic life support, health and safety awareness, food safety, medication, and fire safety.

So far almost 250 staff have been trained, with more than 84 employers in the health and social care sector throughout England.

Cheryl Wallace has delivered the training through a combination of zoom lessons and online learning through Acacia Training’s e-learning platform. Cheryl explains:

“The health and social care sector has experienced significant staffing challenges during the pandemic. Constantly evolving government guidelines, increased staffing ratios needed to achieve social distancing, and staff shortages due to illness, shielding or self-isolating are just some of the challenges.

All of our trainings have been regularly updated – for example reflecting changing advice regarding PPE. During this very busy and challenging time, our clients have needed a fast, thorough and efficient response to make sure that staff can be inducted or upskilled quickly particularly in areas such as safeguarding and infection control.”

She adds: “We have so far delivered more than 366 courses to learners ranging in age from 18 to their 60s. Feedback from care sector employers is that the quick access to funded training has been invaluable.

We’re thankful to Skills for Care for enabling us to deliver this fully funded and important training to a wide range of health and social care employers during a period of intense challenge.

Acacia Training is currently operating a waiting list for any companies interested in accessing the training if more funding becomes available – contact us for more information.

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Mental Health Awareness – Free 2-hour CPD Session

A free 2 hour CPD session to support your understanding of Mental health and guidance on how you can support others.

Covering areas including;

  • What is Mental Health
  • Early warning signs of mental health
  • MHFA Action Plan
  • Sources of stress in the work place and your stress container
  • Risk Factors
  • What is depression?
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Action plan for Suicide
  • What does non-judgmental listening mean
  • How to give support and information
  • What professional help is available?
  • Own action mental health plan

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Funded Training for Health and Social Care providers impacted by COVID-19

Are you a Health and Social Care provider whose staff training has been impacted by Covid 19?

As a Skills for Care endorsed provider, Acacia Training has been granted access to funding to support the growing needs of the care sector in these challenging times. This grant has been awarded to support training in response to Covid 19.

There are 3 areas where we can provide training:

  • Training for volunteers – ½ a day face to face training online
  • Training for new staff or care staff returning to the sector – 4 days as part of induction, online face to face training and online course completion
  • CPD training to existing staff – 2 hours online face to face training online

All training will be conducted via an online web conferencing tool, Zoom and will be conducted by experts in the health and social care field.

All participants will receive a certificate on completion of training.

Contact us today to discuss how we can support your staffs’ development at this time

Q&A Skills for Care Funding

Who can be trained?

There are 3 options for training they are as follows:

  • Training for volunteers – ½ a day online face to face training online
  • Training for new staff or care staff returning to the sector – 4 days as part of induction, online face to face training and online course completion
  • CPD training to existing staff – 2 hours online face to face training online

What do the programmes look like?

Volunteer ½ day includes an introduction to

  • Adult social care – An overview of the sector and the challenges it is currently facing
  • Their role and responsibilities – The diverse role of a volunteer in health and social care
  • Whistleblowing – An introduction to safeguarding, duty of care and responsibilities through whistleblowing
  • Equality, diversity and person centred values – Working in a person centred way and what this means, deprivation of liberty
  • Telephone support and communication – Effective communication and support for those in isolation
  • Pain and discomfort – Role in supporting those in pain
  • Infection prevention and control – PPE and safe working practices
  • Food safety – Introduction to basic food hygiene
  • Fluids and hydration – The importance of fluids and hydration for all, implications linking to those with dementia
  • Health and safety – Maintaining a safe working environment for all
  • Stress – Managing personal stress and supporting those experiencing it

New and returning staff induction includes all areas of the care certificate through face to face and online courses, as well as the areas specified by Skills for Care below

  • Assisting and moving people
  • Basic life support
  • Fire safety
  • Food safety
  • Health & safety awareness
  • Infection prevention & control
  • Safeguarding (specifically around isolation)
  • Medication

CPD for existing staff the following courses are available

  • Assisting and moving people
  • Basic life support
  • Fire safety
  • Food safety
  • Health & safety awareness
  • Infection prevention & control
  • Safeguarding (specifically around isolation)
  • Medication

How many people will you train?

This depends on the size of the employer. The limits are as follows:

Small businesses (1-50 staff) – 10 staff can be trained

Medium businesses (51-249 staff) – 20 staff can be trained

Large businesses (250+ staff) – 30 staff can be trained

How will the training be conducted?

All training will be conducted online via Zoom (online web conferencing) and for the 4-day induction will also include the completion of online courses

When will the training take place?

We will work with you to arrange a suitable time. Due to it being online this can be more flexible and can start as soon as possible. We are able to run all training for groups via this method.

Who do I contact to book my learners on?

Hannah Breeze – hannahb@acaciatraining.co.uk 07939 320112

Mohmed Patel – mohmedp@acaciatraining.co.uk 07969 882362

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Beauty Traineeships scheme tackles challenges for unemployed teens

Budding beauty therapists in Cheshire are being offered a vital first step into employment thanks to the free beauty traineeships programme with the International School of Beauty Therapy (ISOBT) in Crewe.

The Beauty School’s new traineeships aim to help local school and college leavers who are not in education or training (NEET) and are aged 16-18. The youngsters will receive help through a combination of one to one career coaching, confidence building, off-the-job training and a 15 to 20-week part time work placement in a beauty business, which may lead to an apprenticeship.

Across the UK, there are an estimated 792,000 young people aged 16-24 not in education or training.

To help overcome these issues in Crewe and surrounding areas, youngsters on the traineeship scheme will complete an initial two-week pre-employability course before going on to a work experience placement with a local beauty business, two days per week. They will also complete a qualification in beauty, studying for one day per week at the International School of Beauty based on Nantwich Road, Crewe.

One of the tutors teaching the new trainees is Rebecca Fowles, age 24 – who knows all about the challenges facing young people leaving school, and trained at ISOBT herself.

Beauty Traineeships for 16-18 year olds in Crewe and Cheshire

She explains: “I lacked confidence in school and never dreamt that a career in Beauty Therapy was within my reach. However, I made a great career in the beauty industry, first completing an Apprenticeship at ISOBT and then going on to work in six different beauty salons and continuing to complete various other specialist qualifications. Most recently I completed a Teaching and Assessing qualification, and this has meant that I can now pass on my skills and knowledge to other aspiring beauticians.

She says: “I thrive off helping others and watching them become successful, so being able to now teach my skills to new students is a massive achievement. I couldn’t have got where I am today without the help I’ve had from the International School of Beauty Therapy – now I want to help other young people do the same.”

The traineeship project is led by Stoke-on-Trent-based Acacia Training, owners of the International Schools of Beauty Therapy.

Ann Nixon is leading the traineeship project for Acacia Training and the International School of Beauty Therapy.

She explains: “We are very keen to talk to parents, carers and relatives who have a young person at home who is losing confidence because they haven’t yet found their path after leaving school or college. They may be anxious about further education after having a difficult experience at school, or they might have found it hard to find a job or apprenticeship. They may be losing hope and feeling that lots of doors are not open to them, and their family or carers may be feeling that they don’t know how to support them with their next step.

Our job is to help by working very closely with each young person and their family, and with the employer, as well as ensuring the right support is in place from other agencies if needed.

The ultimate goal for the programme is to get each young person in to a paid beauty apprenticeship after they complete their traineeship. What we are providing is a foot in the door with an employer, a chance to impress and find their confidence in a career they enjoy. We are here to hold their hand all the way, giving them chance to shine and realise their true value.”

More information on Beauty Traineeships can be found by visiting www.acaciatraining.co.uk/traineeships or calling Ann Nixon on 01782 646346.

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‘Invictus Games Choir changed my life’ says mental health first aid trainer

Three years ago, Gary Peake had given up on life. He was living with PTSD after being medically discharged from the armed forces and was struggling to find a job. But after being introduced to the charity Help for Heroes, he was encouraged to join the Invictus Games Choir. This, he says, changed his life – and he now works as a mental health first aid (MHFA) trainer for Trentham-based Acacia Training.

Last week, Gary, 58, recorded a charity single alongside Jon Bon Jovi to honour military veterans, which he describes as one of the greatest moments of his life. His own journey to recovery is what inspired Gary to become a MHFA trainer, so that he could help others in distress.

He says: “Finding a purpose to help other people overcome depression, anxiety and PTSD played a huge part in my recovery path and to be able to talk openly about mental health and illness has been phenomenal.”

Gary, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, left the armed forces in 2015, after a 31-year career as a military parachutist and team medic. His experience with PTSD and struggle to find employment left him feeling hopeless and suicidal.

He says: “I phoned a friend and they got in touch with Help for Heroes who looked after me and got me into the Invictus Games Choir. I couldn’t sing a note but the choir became a major part of my recovery. It grounds you and gives you camaraderie and support. All of my problems just evaporate when I’m singing.”

The Invictus Games Choir supports the recovery of wounded, injured and sick military veterans and serving personnel through music. Last week the choir went to the famous Abbey Road Studios in London to re-record Bon Jovi’s single Unbroken alongside the singer to honour military veterans living with PTSD.

Invictus Games Choir

Prince Harry also took part in the recording and the proceeds will go to the Invictus Games Foundation, which oversees the adaptive multi-sport event founded by Harry.

Gary says: “It was such a proud moment to sing with Jon Bon Jovi. I’m a huge fan and I’ve been singing his songs for years. He was so kind and spent time talking to us all, telling us why he wanted to record the single and what it meant to him. We thought we were only going to record a chorus but we ended up working with him for 18 hours, recording and mixing. For me the choir has been my pathway to recovery and this experience really made that journey, all that struggle, worthwhile.”Another major part of Gary’s recovery was joining Acacia Training, which provides apprenticeships, short courses and government funded qualifications in a wide range of sectors. Gary now delivers MHFA training across the UK and has trained more than 1,200 people in the last two years.

The MHFA training is a two-day course which gives participants a deeper understanding of the issues that affect people’s mental health and teaches them practical skills that can be used every day, including how to spot symptoms, assessing the risk of self-harm, confidentiality and the best way to offer support. Clients include private sector companies, youth groups, charities, the armed forces, schools and colleges.

Gary says: “Prevention is always better than cure and it’s fantastic to see more and more major UK companies realising the importance of wellbeing at work and signing their employees up to MHFA training courses. I’ve had such positive feedback from people who have done the course and told me that they found it life-changing.”

Last year Gary won a Mental Health Star award at the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards. He says: “The message is to never give up, there is a recovery pathway for everyone. The sooner we can help people in mental health distress the quicker we can get them on the road to recovery.”

Invictus Games Choir

Acacia Training is running Adult MHFA courses on 30/31 March and 27/28 April and Youth MHFA on 16/17 March. For more information, visit acaciatraining.co.uk.

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“Amazing” assessor Hannah makes the difference

Motivated staff, deeper understanding of clients’ needs and freeing up the owners’ time – these are just some of the benefits of working with Acacia Training, according to Karen, owner of Gloucestershire-based Inspyre Plus.

Karen currently has two staff completing the Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Services, and a further five completing level 3 Apprenticeship qualifications. Those enrolled on the training range in age from 21 to 62. She has noticed a huge difference between the quality of training and support on offer from Acacia Training, compared with their previous provider.

Karen explains: “Our assessor, Hannah has been nothing short of amazing. She’s so pro-active, much more hands-on and motivating than any other trainer we have used. We have noticed that she works very hard with our staff to make sure that they understand what they are learning, that they keep on track with the assignments and work they are required to do, and that they understand very well how to apply this in their work. This means that they are succeeding a lot more quickly with the qualification.

Before we used Acacia, we found that staff didn’t really enjoy the training, which means they weren’t motivated and it fell to us as the business owners to chase. We used to have to follow up and push staff to have the confidence and determination to complete the training.

But now, with Acacia Training, it’s completely different. Our staff are enjoying what they are learning. They are motivated, they value the opportunity to improve their skills and we never have to chase or follow up.

I honestly could not recommend Hannah and Acacia Training highly enough. We are extremely impressed – nothing is ever too much trouble. and very grateful on the impact it is having on us and our team. It means we can focus on our journey to become Ofsted registered and be confident that the staff are learning and developing the best possible standards of care.

Since doing the course we have noticed that our staff have a much deeper understanding of the challenges that the young people we work with face, how their background may have affected them and what kinds of practical and emotional support to offer. They are much more confident in their roles and able to use their judgement and initiative instinctively to help the clients we work with.”

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Why Health & Employee Wellbeing should be at the top of your business agenda

Here at Acacia Training, we practise what we preach.

Everyone who works for us or with us knows that employee wellbeing and staff development is the focus of all we do – whether we are talking about our own staff or our learners who work for our many clients.

That’s why we’re really pleased to announce that we were recently awarded ‘Silver’ accreditation at the Stoke on Trent Healthworks Awards.

What did our Healthworks accreditation involve?

The accreditation process for our staff wellbeing involved:

  • an intense review of our health and wellbeing measures,
  • interviewing a cross-section of employees to ensure they received an authentic viewpoint of what it’s like to work for Acacia.

Why is staff wellbeing and mental health in the workplace important?

Unfortunately, even in 2020, it’s not uncommon for businesses to overlook the emotional wellbeing of employees. But with stats from the Health and Safety Executive showing that more than 11.7 million working days are lost every year due to stress related illness – it’s something businesses can no longer choose to ignore!

It’s standard for companies to have trained emergency first aiders – now we want to make it standard for them to have mental health first aiders too.

We believe that when it comes to employees’ mental health, prevention is always better than cure and it’s fantastic to see more and more major UK companies realising the importance of wellbeing at work and signing their employees up to our Mental Health First Aid training courses.

We’ve had such positive feedback from people who have done the course and told us that they found it life-changing!

What kind of things can help promote employee wellbeing?

During this process, Healthworks Awards praised a number of initiatives that contribute to employee satisfaction. Here are some of them to help you with ideas:

  • A family oriented working environment,
  • Encouraging flexible working
  • Providing staff advice on healthy living
  • Free fruit deliveries for the office
  • A company choir that brings us all together and makes us feel good!
  • Staff feel that there is an ‘open door’ policy whenever they need additional support and know that ‘it’s ok to talk’.
  • We invest significantly to ensure staff received training from their inhouse team of mental health first aiders as a way of preventing mental health problems in the workplace.
  • Our newly launched ‘Wellonomics’ employee wellbeing checker enables Acacia Training’s staff and students to give anonymous feedback. This has been invaluable to help us put the right follow up measures, support and training in place wherever needed

More information about Mental Health First Aid and Employee Wellbeing surveys

Acacia Training’s Mental Health First Aid training is a two-day course which gives participants a deeper understanding of the issues that affect people’s mental health and teaches them practical skills that can be used every day, including how to spot symptoms, assessing the risk of self-harm, confidentiality and the best way to offer support.

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Acacia Training is
armed forces friendly!

Trentham-based Acacia Training has been recognised as providing exceptional support to the armed forces community after being awarded a Bronze award from the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

The company, which provides apprenticeships and work based training, earned the accolade by demonstrating through it’s culture, policies and procedures that it is ‘forces-friendly’ and is open to employing reservists, armed forces veterans, cadet instructors and military spouses/partners.

Acacia Training already employs two ex-forces professionals – former RAF gunners Gary Peake and Phillip Delbaugh. The pair, who actually met over 30 years ago on a tour of Northern Ireland, now deliver a Mental Health First Aid training across the UK.

For Gary, it was his own personal experience that inspired him to become a first aider. He was medically discharged from the armed forces in 2015, after a 31-year career as a military parachutist and team medic. He developed PTSD and struggled to find employment, until he joined Acacia Training.

Company director Victoria Sylvester previously declared her support for the armed forces back in November 2019 by signing the Armed Forces Covenant to support the military community. She also funded the £2,000 installation of an Auto External Defibrillator (AED) at TriForces, a support centre for armed forces veterans in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre.

Acacia Training director, Victoria Sylvester, explains:

“Through working with Gary and Phil, we have developed a much better understanding of the support that needs to be there for anyone leaving the forces.

We’re thrilled to receive this Bronze Award to demonstrate our commitment to armed forces personnel past and present. This new accreditation has meant making changes to our policies and procedures as part of our commitment to recruit and retain more ex forces personnel in the future.

“Reservists and veterans bring a variety of transferable skills and qualities to the civilian workplace. We’d love more to walk through our doors to either work with us or be trained by us.”

Acacia Training is a family business based in Stoke on Trent, providing apprenticeships, short courses and work-based training across the UK. Specialisms include health and social care, early years education, beauty, dental nursing and short courses including mental health first aid training.

Contact Us for help and advice on funding available to meet your training needs.

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