The employer group met last week to continue discussions around the MPharm degree apprenticeship standard for pharmacists, Skills for Health – a not-for-profit educational organisation facilitating the development of apprenticeship standards – said in a statement on Wednesday (June 16).
Work on a level 7 apprenticeship, equivalent to a master’s degree, where pharmacists would train as apprentices on placements hosted by pharmacy companies, had already been paused two times, before being placed “on hold” due to COVID-19.
Having resumed the talks, the group is now “in the process of reviewing the proposal, apprenticeship standard and end-point assessment plan”, Skills for Health said.
A second proposal and draft standard will eventually go out for public consultation, the timelines of which are yet to be decided, Skills for Health told C+D.
Concerns and myths
The idea of a pharmacist apprenticeship scheme has proved controversial, with some pharmacists concerned that trainees who come through the apprenticeship route will not be as qualified as those who take the traditional MPharm training route.
However, Skills for Health stressed that the pharmacist apprenticeship standard “will be aligned to the recently published General Pharmaceutical Council standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, while also meeting the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education requirements for apprenticeship standard content”.
The employer group “continues to receive the occasional query regarding the content of the apprenticeship, in addition to the many myths that still exist around apprenticeships in general”, Skills for Health added.
“The group would like to reassure the sector on the following points:
- “The apprenticeship standard will include the full MPharm degree and the one-year integrated pre-registration period, thereby meeting the same regulatory requirements as the traditional route.
- “Entry onto the apprenticeship programme will continue to be dictated by the MPharm degree element of the programme.
- “Participating employers will be responsible for setting the salary for any of their apprentice employees coming onto the programme. As with other professional apprenticeship programmes, due to the significant investment that will be required by the employer to support the method of delivery, we would expect salaries to be competitive in order to both attract and retain individuals to the programme.”
In a list of frequently asked questions on the Skills for Health website, the organisation said once the apprenticeship elements are approved, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education will allocate a “funding band” – the maximum of £27,000 – that “represents the maximum amount that can be drawn from the apprenticeship levy to contribute to the overall cost of delivery”.
The employer group behind the proposals is “currently exploring other funding mechanisms to support the overall cost of delivery”, it added.
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