26 October 2020

Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader

Acacia Training has been named as a Disability Confident Leader again, three years after being one of the first organisations in the UK to gain this status.

We have successfully renewed our accreditation at the highest level of the national scheme until 2023. Disability Confident is a government initiative designed to help recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent. As a Leader, Acacia Training acts as a regional ambassador, sharing our expertise with local businesses and helping them to become disability confident too.

Clare Hancock, Partnership Manager at Acacia Training, says: “We were very proud to be one of the first organisations in the UK to gain Disability Confident Leader status in 2017 and we are thrilled to have had our accreditation renewed for another three years.

“We’ve seen many benefits to joining the scheme. Not only does it encourage applications from people with disabilities, enabling us to draw from a wider pool of talent, it improves morale and commitment by demonstrating that we treat all our employees fairly. Many disabilities are hidden and since becoming a Disability Confident Leader our staff say they feel more confident speaking up because they know they’ll be supported.” 

In 2019, we were shortlisted in the Disability Confident category of the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) Awards and featured on the gov.uk website. We currently work with a number of local business to help them become disability confident and our staff regularly speak at events and conferences. We hope our experience will encourage others to join the scheme.

Clare says: “Given the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, schemes like Disability Confident are more important than ever. With so many candidates out there looking and applying for roles, some people with disabilities will feel that they don’t even have a chance. People need to know now, more than ever, that potential employers will treat them equally and support them in the workplace.”

Clare adds: “Many employers feel that they are a million miles away from achieving Disability Confident status so it’s not worth applying. However, often that’s not the case. Take a step back, review your processes, and you’ll probably find that you’re already doing much of what is required. There is plenty of support out there too.”   

If you’re a local business interested in joining the Disability Confident Scheme and would like to speak to us, please call 01782 646346.

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15 October 2020

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career in childminding

After being a stay at home mum for several years, Michelle Williams wanted to go back to work. But she needed something that fit in around her family commitments.

Michelle volunteered in a school to gain some experience. Although she enjoyed it, it made her realise that she wanted to work from home while her children were young.

She explains: “Before I had my children I worked in an accounts office but I wanted to pursue a different career. I love children so I got a placement in a school, doing everything from reading to the pupils to helping in the kitchen. It was great but I decided to train as a childminder so that I could look after my own children alongside others.”

Michelle, from Nantwich, signed up to a Level 3 Diploma in Childcare at Acacia Training. She says: “I enjoyed the course and really knuckled down and put the hours in, so I completed it in less than a year. The team at Acacia Training were really supportive and gave me the confidence to pursue my ambition of becoming a childminder.”

In 2015, Michelle officially registered as a childminder and she still works as one today. She looks after between four and six children every day, from six months old upwards. She says: “It has been an extremely rewarding career for me. I really enjoy looking after the children and watching them grow and develop. We go on plenty of days out, from the park to the beach, and no day is ever the same.”

Michelle adds: “My daughter is now 16 and is planning to do a beauty apprenticeship with Acacia Training. It’s great to see her pursuing her career dream now too.”  

Are you looking to start or develop a career working with children and young people? Discover our range of courses here.

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7 October 2020

Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’

The shock and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many people to rethink their careers. According to a survey by the National Lottery, 42% of British people are considering a post-lockdown career overhaul.

For two women, beauty training has provided a great route for them to finally pursue their dream career. Ruth Johnson and Gemma Dudley both signed up to courses at the International School of Beauty Therapy this year and haven’t looked back.

They’re not the only ones. Clare Hancock, Centre Manager, explains: “We have seen a huge increase in enquiries for our courses over the last few months as more people look to retrain after being made redundant or to finally go for their dream career. Covid-19 has encouraged many to re-evaluate their work-life balance and future aspirations. People who have wanted a career in beauty for a long time are finally taking the plunge.”

Clare adds: “Access to funding, such as the Advanced Learner Loan and interest free finance, is also helping people to make that exciting step towards their dream career. It’s incredibly inspiring to see these learners enrol and thrive on our courses.”

Ruth’s story

NHS worker Ruth Johnson had dreamed of owning her own beauty salon for years but, like most people, day to day life and responsibilities always got in the way.

However, the coronavirus outbreak made the mum-of-three look long and hard at her life, career and happiness, and what she wanted to achieve.

So, at the age of 36, she decided to pursue her dreams and enrol at the International School of Beauty Therapy in Cheshire. She is now taking Level 3 Diplomas in Nail Technology and Beauty Therapy Massage and is delighted that she took the plunge.

Ruth explains: “I’ve always been interested in a career in beauty but never had that push to actually go for it. I’ve worked in admin, as a carer, a nursing assistant and, more recently, as an administrator in a hospital A&E department.

“However, this year something finally clicked in me. I like my job and my colleagues are amazing but working in a hospital and seeing first-hand the impact of Covid-19 made me realise how important it is to embrace life and go for what you really want.”

Ruth adds: “I called the International School of Beauty Therapy to ask about their courses and they told me they had some starting that week if I was interested. I listened to my gut and decided to go for it – and I haven’t looked back.”

Ruth applied for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the course costs. She says: “The training has been absolutely great – most of it has been online so far but I’ve got to know everyone on the course and I’ve loved learning again.”

Ruth adds: “We met up for the first time this month, which was lovely. The tutors and students have really supported each other from the start, it feels like we’re a family.”

Once she has completed her training, Ruth plans to start building up her clientele before opening her own salon in the next couple of years. She says: “It’s such a thrill to be pursuing my dreams and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.”

Gemma’s story

Mum-of-four Gemma Dudley has worked in the travel industry for five years but, like many people, was furloughed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. A few months later she told she was at risk of redundancy.

Gemma, 39, explains: “When I was first furloughed, I felt quite positive about it. I thought having some paid time off would give me the chance to spend more time with the children and get all the jobs done around the house that I wouldn’t normally have time to do working full-time as a travel exchange consultant.

“But as the weeks and months went by, it got tougher and tougher. I love my job so being off work and seeing the travel industry falling apart was really difficult.”

As time went on, Gemma started to re-evaluate her life and career. She had always dreamed of becoming a beauty therapist and had started a college course 11 years ago but then she became pregnant and didn’t finish her training. 

She says: “I’ve always wanted to go back to college and finish what I started but with four children aged between seven and 21, a full-time job and a house to run, I never had the opportunity. I was constantly running around and didn’t have any time to really stop and think about what I wanted.”

Gemma initially got in touch with the International School of Beauty Therapy in 2019 to enquire about training but was too busy to pursue it. So when the school contacted her this year to tell her about the current courses available, she was thrilled.

She says: “I finally had some time on my hands and I jumped at the opportunity. I enrolled on the Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology and haven’t looked back. I am really enjoying the training so far and everyone is incredibly friendly and supportive.”

Gemma applied for an Advanced Learner Loan to help fund the course. Once she’s completed her training, she hopes to work as a mobile beautician so she can fit her work in around her family and other commitments. Her long-term goal is to open her own beauty salon.

She says: “I’ve signed up to do Beauty Therapy Massage next year and I plan to take the courses in self-tanning and eyelash treatments. I’m so glad I went for it and I’m really excited to see where it takes me. I finally feel one step closer to achieving my dream.”  

Start your journey to a beautiful career today with our range of beauty courses.

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26 Oct 2020

Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader

We’ve been named as a Disability Confident Leader again, three years after being one of the first organisations to gain this status.

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career in childminding
15 Oct 2020

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career...

Michelle Williams wanted to go back to work – but she needed something that fit in around her family commitments.

20 causes for 20 years
6 Oct 2020

20 causes for 20 years

To celebrate Acacia Training’s 20th birthday this month, we’ve donated to 20 different causes to help improve access to healthcare and education across the globe.

6 October 2020

20 causes for 20 years

To celebrate Acacia Training’s 20th birthday this year, we’ve donated to 20 different causes to help improve access to healthcare and education across the globe.

Our team was asked to nominate worthy causes as part of the B1G1 initiative, a global business giving movement. Our CEO Vikki Sylvester then used her own salary to donate funds to 20 causes – one for each year that Acacia Training has been operating.

Causes included educating a child with special needs in Nepal, empowering women with literacy and business skills in Uganda and providing library books in Cambodia.

Vikki explains: “As a company, social responsibility is extremely important to us and this year we wanted to do something extra special for our 20th birthday. Donating to 20 causes seemed a fitting way to extend our commitment to making a difference and celebrate all the team’s achievements to date.”

Vikki adds: “It’s created a really positive vibe in our Acacia community. By spreading joy for other people across the world, it’s spread joy within our team too.”

Find out more about our Business for Good Strategy.

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28 September 2020

Acacia Training turns 20

Today is our 20th birthday and as we celebrate training 35,000 learners since we began, we’ve been looking back at how Acacia Training has grown over the last two decades.

Our founders, Vikki Sylvester and her mum Anne Littleton, started Acacia in September 2000. As a registered nurse and the owner of a care home, Vikki was frustrated at the lack of high quality training to meet their needs – so they decided to start their own training company, specialising in health and social care.

From humble beginnings, Acacia Training has grown from two founding members to 80 staff, training 3,500 people a year in health, social care, early years, beauty, dental nursing, business and management. We’ve worked with over 7,000 employers.

In 2017, we merged with a PLC, now known as MBH Corporation, and two years later Victoria was voted on to MBH’s Board as an Executive Director.

Vikki also won Entrepreneur of the Year at the Sentinel Business Awards in July. She says: “Mum and I both worked in the care sector and experienced the struggle to recruit and retain quality care staff. We wanted to improve access to high-quality training, so we decided to set up our own company. I never imagined that 20 years later we’d be training more than 3,500 learners across a range of sectors each year.”

She adds: “Despite our expansion, we’ve still maintained that family feel and remain passionate about supporting our employees and learners and ensuring that people gain the skills they need to thrive in their chosen career.”

Acacia Training was one of the first organisations in the UK to gain ‘disability confident leader’ status and we were awarded silver status by HealthWorks Stoke-on-Trent, which recognises organisations that promote and support workplace health and wellbeing.

Vikki explains: “As a company, social responsibility is extremely important to us. We also support forces veterans through our work with local charities and signing the armed forces covenant to ensure we are able to support those leaving the army, navy and RAF. More recently we joined the B1G1 initiative, which encourages our whole team to nominate global causes, and I use my own salary to donate funds to that cause.”

Vikki adds: “I’d like to say a big thank you to all our staff, clients and learners, partners and suppliers who have been a part of this 20-year journey. We are more passionate than ever about our commitment to supporting people into jobs and apprenticeships through skills, knowledge and education.”

Acacia Training offers a range of career packages and courses across a number of sectors. Find your perfect course here.

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Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career in childminding
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Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career...

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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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28 July 2020

Acacia delivers Skills for Care training to help COVID-19 response

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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14 April 2020

Infection Control – Free 2-hour CPD Session

Key components include:

  • Chain of infection
  • Routes of infection
  • Common infections, causes and the effects
  • Current legislation, policy & procedures
  • COSHH regulations
  • Cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising

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Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career...

Michelle Williams wanted to go back to work – but she needed something that fit in around her family commitments.

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Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’

For two women, beauty training has provided a great route for them to finally pursue their dream career.

14 April 2020

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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Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader
26 Oct 2020

Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader

We’ve been named as a Disability Confident Leader again, three years after being one of the first organisations to gain this status.

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career in childminding
15 Oct 2020

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career...

Michelle Williams wanted to go back to work – but she needed something that fit in around her family commitments.

Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’
7 Oct 2020

Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’

For two women, beauty training has provided a great route for them to finally pursue their dream career.

14 April 2020

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

More news

Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader
26 Oct 2020

Acacia Training is a Disability Confident Leader

We’ve been named as a Disability Confident Leader again, three years after being one of the first organisations to gain this status.

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career in childminding
15 Oct 2020

Michelle celebrates five years of a rewarding career...

Michelle Williams wanted to go back to work – but she needed something that fit in around her family commitments.

Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’
7 Oct 2020

Beauty training ‘a route to pursue dream career’

For two women, beauty training has provided a great route for them to finally pursue their dream career.