NHS apprentices

NHS celebrates life-changing apprenticeship programmes

In recognition of national apprenticeship week, NHS England (NHSE) is celebrating how its programmes have helped people reinvent themselves and start a career in the health service.

One of the success stories is Steven Jewell, 42, who left school at 15 with no qualifications.

After a range of jobs, including being a greengrocer, Jewell completed the registered nursing degree apprenticeship and now works at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust – a move which he describes as a life-changing one.

Jewell said: “Without the apprenticeship, I would never have been able to go to university or be in the position I am today. At nearly 40, being afforded the opportunity to earn a salary while taking a degree level course with blended work-placed learning, truly changed my life.”

Recent data shows the NHS employed the most new apprentices in 2022/23 in the public sector. NHSE says more than 20,000 started last year.

Jewell added: “The apprentice route has enabled me to go from greengrocer to registered mental health nurse in just over four years. I am now in a job I love, helping other people, as well as changing my life for the better.”

Robert Halfon comment

The world-first medical doctor degree apprenticeship pilot is set to be launched this year, which NHSE describes as an “important step forward” to attracting a more diverse group of people into medicine.

As the integration of data continues in the NHS, a stronger focus on digital apprenticeship is also being employed – the health service has a range of opportunities in this area, including data technician and artificial intelligence data specialist.

Apprenticeships are central to the goals in the long-term workforce plan, according to Professor Mark Radford, deputy chief nursing officer at NHSE.

NHSE is looking to triple the number of apprentices it trains by 2030, meaning they make up more than one in every five new hires.

Prof Radford, who is the plan’s delivery director, said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic tool, not only to attract new talent to the NHS but also to develop the skills of the existing workforce.

“Our ambition for apprenticeships is to continue to build on the fantastic success of the expansion to date and provide an alternative route to careers such as nursing and Allied Health Professions.”

From 2025, the NHS will collaborate with UCAS to afford young people the ability to apply for apprenticeships simultaneously with traditional degrees.

Image credit: iStock

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