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Consultation launched on new pathway to become a pharmacy technician

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) has launched a consultation on the draft content of a new T-level course to train as a pharmacy technician.

T-levels are two-year courses that follow General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and are equivalent to three A levels, the Department of Education wrote on its website.

While apprenticeships offer trainees a pathway that is typically 80% on-the-job and 20% in the classroom, T-level trainees would spend 80% of their time in the classroom, with the remaining time completed in an industry placement.


Potential route into Master of Pharmacy degree


The IFATE – an employer-led organisation – is seeking views on the draft outline content of the T-level for pharmacy technicians, which it has redesigned alongside the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and a panel of higher education institutions.

The outline content was redesigned to achieve several objectives, including “increased scientific and pharmacy-specific content to align more closely with industry expectations” and “developing a one-year accelerated apprenticeship to enable progression for learners, on completion of the T Level, to register as a pharmacy technician”, the IFATE wrote on its website.

Under the revised outline content, learners would acquire “pharmacy specific knowledge and skills to progress to employment within the industry and the foundation scientific knowledge that would support progression to scientific higher education courses and potentially a Master of Pharmacy degree,” the IFATE added.

Stakeholders are being invited to share their views on the consultation, including offering feedback on if they believe the revised content “would provide good preparation for students to go on to higher education in a relevant area”.

Feedback can be submitted until October 11, while the IFATE said it aims to publish the final content for the T-level next year, ahead of introducing the programme in September 2023.


Increasing demand for pharmacy technicians


Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Liz Fidler told C+D yesterday (October 5) that the organisation “welcomes the discussions between the IFATE, providers and pharmacy stakeholders around the role a T-Level apprenticeship could play in offering an additional education pathway and route to register as a pharmacy technician for young people”.

“With the recognition of the contribution pharmacy technicians are making to patients across healthcare settings, there is an ever-increasing demand for the workforce.

“APTUK will continue to engage with developments and will seek members’ views to provide an organisational response to the consultation,” Ms Fidler added.

Pharmacy technician education in the UK currently follows two routes, Ms Fidler said. Under one, the employer pays a training provider to enroll the trainee in a GPhC-accredited course to be completed over two years.

“The learner must work within the workplace for a minimum number of supervised hours each week – contributing to an overall time supervised – to be able to register with the GPhC,” Ms Fidler said.

Alternatively, students can start a two-year apprenticeship within an “appropriate workplace”, as part of which they are entitled to “off-the-job” learning for an equivalent of 20% of their working hours each week.

C+D reported last month that Health Education England has increased the number of training places for pre-registration pharmacy technicians and opened its pharmacy technician workforce expansion programme to community pharmacy for the first time for the 2021/22 education year. 

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