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Boots and Well part of pharmacist apprenticeships 'trailblazer' group

Boots and Well are among a group of at least 10 pharmacy employers that proposed pharmacist apprenticeships.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education – an employer-led public body not affiliated with a government department – launched a 10-day consultation on proposals for a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship scheme, which closed yesterday (April 14).

Boots told C+D today that it is a member of the group, “along with a number of other pharmacy organisations” who are “together looking into a pharmacy apprenticeship proposal”.

The multiple stressed the proposal is “still in the early exploratory stages of consultation and no decisions have been taken” regarding its long-term viability.

Well said it is also part of the “trailblazer group” and is “working with employers from other sectors as well as community employers to explore new routes to qualification and registration”.

The Institute for Apprenticeships claimed Superdrug helped develop the proposals. C+D has asked Lloydspharmacy and Rowlands if they are involved in the trailblazer group.

“Support across the sector”

The Institute for Apprenticeships said the group “has the support of major organisations across the sector” including “a number of NHS trusts”.

It has also been “working closely with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the National Pharmacist[sic] Association”, the institute added.

However, the GPhC said its involvement was limited: “We have not contributed to drafting these proposals. We have attended two meetings to explain regulatory requirements in our role as the pharmacy regulator,” it said.

The National Pharmacy Association said it was part of early discussions about the scheme, but is not part of the trailblazer group.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said on Friday it has not contributed to the trailblazer “up to now”. It is looking for view on apprenticeships via email.

Addressing the skill gaps

The institute “works with employers to develop apprenticeships that address skill gaps identified by the employer and the sector as a whole”, it said.

It stressed that development would need GPhC accreditation and that it is “still at an early stage”.

“The costs of the training and assessment – as with all apprenticeships – would be funded by revenue generated by the apprenticeship levy,” it explained.

GPhC calls for longer consultation

The consultation, which the institute said was “circulated to stakeholders and representative groups”, has drawn a lot of comment and reaction on social media.

In a statement today, the GPhC urged the institute to “hold a further and more detailed consultation for a longer period if the proposals move forward, to enable everyone with views on the proposals to fully contribute”.

C+D has contacted the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education for further comment.

What is the trailblazer group?

The standards for apprenticeships are formed by a trailblazer group of employers who are reflective of a sector, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education says in a general definition. To become a trailblazer group employers need to submit a proposal to the institute.

The group of at least 10 employers “come together as the creators and early adopters of new apprenticeship standards”, the institute said.

“Professional bodies and trade associations can also be members, but do not count towards the total of employers,” the institute states.

The other pharmacy companies and bodies that are part of the group have not yet been made public.

However, Laura McEwan-Smith, an expert in apprenticeships, said: “If the Institute for Apprenticeships approves progression to the apprenticeship standard development stage, the full list of employers, including contact details of the group chair, will be published online.”

Did you respond to the apprenticeship proposal consultation?

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