“Given the controversy” surrounding proposals to introduce a five-year apprenticeship scheme, and “that more than 10% of the current profession felt the need to comment on the draft proposals”, the group of employers “should identify themselves”, PDA director Paul Day said.
Mr Day spoke to C+D following a meeting with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to discuss proposals, held in Birmingham yesterday (May 2).
Boots, Well, Lloydspharmacy and Superdrug have all confirmed to C+D they are part of the “employer trailblazer group” – a group of at least 10 employers “that come together as the creators and early adopters of new apprenticeship standards”, according to the institute’s website.
“Because we don’t know who is [in] that group, we can’t say which parts of the pharmacy sector have been represented and which parts haven’t,” Mr Day said.
Responses to the 10-day consultation on the proposals, which closed on April 14, should also be made public, he argued. However, Mr Day acknowledged “that isn’t the institute’s normal practice”.
The Birmingham meeting was attended by representatives from 11 organisations, including the PDA, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the National Pharmacy Association (see below).
Employer group should “withdraw proposals”
In a statement published following the meeting, the PDA said it had been a “fact-finding” mission, and a chance to “raise concerns of our members”.
“It became clear that the specific proposal for a pharmacist apprenticeship is the responsibility of the employer trailblazer group and the content of the proposal originated from that group,” the PDA added.
It recommended the group of employers “withdraw their current proposal in order to have a fully formed debate”, as it “became apparent” during the meeting that “more discussion is needed for all the potential implications of such a proposal to be understood”.
Institute “continues to invite feedback”
Jonathan Mitchell, deputy director for standards development at the institute, told C+D: “We welcome the opportunity to hear the views of the attendees and their memberships at this very early stage.
“The institute will continue to invite feedback on this proposal in the form of consultations as the development work progresses.”
A “health and science route panel” – which meets every six weeks to consider submissions from employer “trailblazer groups” – will make the final decision on the proposal in May, the institute told C+D last week.
If approved, the “trailblazer group” will develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours of pharmacists using GPhC requirements, the institute said during the meeting.
A further six-week consultation on the draft apprenticeship standard would then be conducted, during which the institute will run a two-week survey, it added.