Volunteers at the St John Ambulance will soon be able to work towards an externally accredited BTEC qualification in health and social care, allowing the first-aid charity to bid for NHS contracts.
A new training centre for staff and volunteers, run by the charity and certified by examining body Edexcel, will be launched next month.
All 2,500 staff and 45,000 volunteers will be eligible to train for professionally recognised qualifications.
National head of HR Martyn Lowe believes the training centre will put his charity’s services on a par with those offered by the government through local authorities.
He told Personnel Today: “The training will provide volunteers who deliver care across the community with an accredited qualification, which means we can be sure it will achieve a standard equal to a statutory body like a private care trust or an elderly home.”
“Clearly if we achieve a certain standard in the skills of our volunteers we can bid for contracts in the NHS,” he added.
Lowe is joined by just four others in the HR team. But, he said: “The training we provide will directly impact on our commercial business, and that’s how we can get more resources.”
Although Lowe cannot yet know how many volunteers will take up the BTEC training, he is confident the intake will be high.
“We run another learning and development institute [which offers non-qualification training], which is highly successful,” he said.