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25.01.16

Ministers pledge 17,000 NHS apprenticeships this year

Ministers at the Department of Health have pledged that the NHS in England will take in around 17,000 new apprentices this year as part of the government’s commitment to make 2.3% of workers in large public sector bodies apprentices.

This is expected to skyrocket to 100,000 by the end of this Parliament, with opportunities available as nursing and healthcare assistants and across IT, estates and facilities, domestic and housekeeping services, and business administration and accounting.

The programme is expected to broaden the routes into training and employment in the health service, especially in attracting young people and a more diverse workforce.

But this will not necessarily mean 17,000 new people will come in, with existing NHS staff being able to apply for roles if they want to try something new or enhance their current role.

In some regions, work is already underway to ensure apprentices are able to continue working within trusts. At Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, for example, of the 24 trainees initially taken on, over half have stayed working in the trust.

Similarly, North Bristol NHS Trust has teamed up with its local Jobcentre to ensure 20 of the original 27 trainees remain employed across the provider’s admin and payroll jobs.

Health minister Ben Gummer MP commented: “I am immensely proud that the NHS is leading the way in offering thousands of aspiring young people the opportunity to become an apprentice.

“We will work with trusts across the country to improve access to a career in the healthcare system for anyone who has the drive and values to pursue it.

“This apprenticeship plan, along with the £10bn we have invested to back the NHS’s own plans for the future, will ensure staff have the opportunity to develop their careers in both existing and also new and exciting roles such as nursing associates.”

Nursing associates, a role created and announced by Gummer late last year, will ensure staff learn on the job via an apprenticeship that can later be fast-tracked into a foundation degree.

The department will then look at opportunities for nursing associates to progress to become a registered nurse, either through a degree-level nurse apprenticeship or a shortened nursing degree at university.

It is estimated that up to 1,000 people could be trained in this new role from 2016.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the government’s consultation on its reformed apprenticeship target for public sector bodies, initially confirmed by the prime minister last year.

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