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Pharmacist apprenticeships under consideration in 10-day consultation

The consultation response document asks seven questions
The consultation response document asks seven questions

Pharmacists could qualify through a five-year apprenticeship scheme led by employers, according to proposals set out in a consultation which closes on Sunday (April 14).

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education – an employer-led public body not affiliated with a government department – launched the 10-day consultation, which runs until Sunday (April 14).

Pharmacists would train as apprentices on placements hosted by pharmacy companies.

The proposal was developed following discussions “with a range of employers”, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and universities, the institute claimed.

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 told C+D today.

The consultation is at the first of three stages with the aim of finding out if industry professionals support it.

The consultation response document says it should take “no more than 10 minutes to complete”. It asks seven questions including “do you support the development of the apprenticeship standard set out in the proposal?” and “do you recognise this occupation?”.

“Pharmacists are experts in medicines and therapeutical management and ongoing care, they are not required to diagnose and manage medical care, they will also provide advice to patients on medicines management,” the institute said in the consultation document.

What are apprenticeships?

The institute defines apprentices as “a job with training to industry standards”.

They are “employer-led: employers set the standards, create the demand for apprentices to meet their skill needs, fund the apprenticeship and are responsible for employing and training the apprentice”.

Apprentices need “to achieve competence in a skilled occupation, which is transferable and secures long-term earnings power, greater security and the capability to progress in the workplace”.

Apprentice standards

A “trailblazer group” of employers who are reflective of a sector form the standards of apprenticeships, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education said in a general definition.

To become a trailblazer group employers need to submit a proposal to the institute.

The standards would be “based upon occupational standards”, it said.

“An occupational standard is a short and concise document that describes what someone who is competent in the occupation does – ‘duties’, and the ‘knowledge, skills and behaviours’ required to carry out the duties competently; along with any qualifications that must be taken and alignment with professional recognition if applicable,” the institute continued.

Assessment of apprentices

Apprentices have to take an “independent assessment” at the end of their training to “confirm that they have achieved occupational competence”.

The trailblazer group would develop the assessment “to test competence against your occupational standard”.

The GPhC said: “Any course would need to meet our standards and would need to be accredited by us, and any trainees would need to pass our registration assessment before coming on to the register.”

It is currently unclear how pharmacy apprenticeships will work with pharmacy degrees.

PDA: Reject these surprise proposals

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) urged pharmacists to respond to the “surprise” proposals, as a pharmacist apprenticeship would lead to a “reduction in standards and deprofessionalisation”, it claimed.

“The profession has not been widely engaged or consulted as to whether it wants an apprenticeship to be introduced. On that basis alone it should not proceed,” the PDA stressed.

Some CCA members involved in proposals

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said some of its members are part of the Pharmacy Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group behind the proposals, though the organisation is not directly. It represents Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well, Rowlands and Superdrug, as well as the pharmacy arms of Morrisons, Tesco and Asda.

The trailblazer group involves other pharmacy employers who are not CCA members, as well as “hospital employers and pharmaceutical employers”, it said.

The group has been developing apprenticeship standards for pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians “for some time”.

But “the proposal for a pharmacist degree apprenticeship is only in the very explorative stage”, the CCA stressed.

RPS: Degree apprenticeships successful elsewhere

The RPS said it has not contributed to trailblazer “up to now”.

“We were notified by the trailblazer group that they were exploring this recently,” it said.

“We will work with our members on whether [apprenticeships] are suitable as a route to registration as a pharmacist.

“The RPS will be feeding in our views at the appropriate time to make sure the profession's voice is heard.”

The RPS is looking for views from the profession on apprenticeships via email.

“The degree apprenticeship approach is also being taken by other healthcare professions and has been successful in areas such as engineering in improving the number of people able to access the degree.”

Read the full consultation and respond here.

Read more about the proposals from an apprenticeship expert.

114 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of proposals for a pharmacist apprenticeship scheme?

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

How many hours they work is up to the student and the employer, it might be non! However I would imagine it would only be during non university term time, which student might welcome.

The required MPharm degree would be from a GPhC accredited university clearly, how that university might wish to structure their teaching time is up to them, as long as its accredited by the GPhC. I would imagine due to the apprenticeship framework it would have to be one of the 5yr integrated programmes, due to the need for an end point assessment.

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Keep going my friend eventually facts may shine a light to an open mind

Thomas Wilde, Community pharmacist

So how would that be different from what most students do? study during the academic year and work in the holidays. Which would mean its pointless with no benefit to anyone.

My understanding of apprenticeship schemes and if you read through the consultation questions would imply that only 20% of the time would be 'off the job' learning i.e. they only spend 20% actually in lectures and 80% in a pharmacy where yes you learn a great deal of patient experience but its not the science side you need to learn to understand core concepts.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Minimum of 20%, and its not per working week, it can be in blocks. 30 weeks at university & 22 weeks at work (although its debatable whether that would comply). Some HEIs might come up with different solutions with employers. It is little different to what some students do as you point out, but it allows companies and hospitals to potentially use their apprentice levy, and pay for students tuition fees. The downside is they have to pay them all year so its a calculation that will have to be made taking into account factors like recruitment and the need for vacation cover.

As a student why wouldnt you look to have your tuition fees subsidised and earn during your studies?

CCG Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

Just when you thought the profession couldn't become devalued any further....

Looking at the list of apprenticeships this proposed scheme could sit alongside, according to the Institute for Apprenticeships link, we have the following professions - puppet maker, bricklayer, welder, barista (coffee maker), roofer.....the list goes on and on. All, I'm sure, very skilled in their own right and have a place in society but should pharmacy sit along side these? 

According to the details there are 2 large community pharmacy companies (I'm sure we can guess who) pushing this forward and with an initial salary of £3.90 per hour the profession has become devalued even further

janet revers, Community pharmacist

£3.90 per hour..... You ARE kidding me??

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

You missed Dispensing Optician..................in the same section of the IFA website? And Chartered Surveyor? Also, the proposal will still need to be approved by the GPhC, who require the competion of an accredited MPharm course and a successful outcome for the pre-reg exam? Some prospective student pharmacists might like to be employed all their way through their undergraduate course?

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

But the GPhC are in the pockets of certain operators. Do you not see the conflictof interest....

C A, Community pharmacist

A Dispensing Optician seems to be a level below an Optometrist, kind of like a Technician is below a Pharmacist. Although forgive me if I am mis-interpreting that, it's late, but if that's the best evidence you have it doesn't bode well for not devaluing the profession...

Z Z, Pharmacy Asistant/ Medicine Counter Assistant

This is a list of level 7 apprenticeships already in existence:-

Senior LeaderArchitect (degree), Chartered Town Planner (degree), Outside broadcasting engineer (degree), Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist (integrated degree)Academic, professionalSystems engineering masters levelPower engineer (degree), Post Graduate EngineerProcess automation engineer (degree), Rail and Rail Systems Principal Engineer (degree), Risk and Safety Management Professional (degree)Materials Process Engineer (degree), Systems engineering (degree)Advanced clinical practitioner (degree), Regulatory Affairs Specialist (degree), Bioinformatics scientist, Arts Therapist (degree) ,SolicitorAccountancy / taxation professionalSenior investment / commercial banking professional ,ActuaryInternal Audit Professional

The level 6 apprenticeships are too numerous to list, but for whoever was going on about it first officer pilot, teacher and social worker are level 6. Both teacher and social worker include postgraduate qualifications, unlike community pharmacy. Also Midwife and OT in there. 

 

Z Z, Pharmacy Asistant/ Medicine Counter Assistant

Nursing associate apprenticeship already exists. As does some other vaguely 'healthcare' related ones. 

The irony of pharmacists working in a vocational 'profession' arguing against rigorous vocational training.

Karen Jardine, Student

anyone who want to be pharmacist, why donot they study and go to university and become professional instead advocate useless aruguments

 

Z Z, Pharmacy Asistant/ Medicine Counter Assistant

Many pharmacy staff already have degrees. 

Working on the job, with a day out learning somewhere else doesn't seem so bad an option to me. Nor is it easier. If anyone has met anyone that's done a level 4 or above apprenticeship, it's not the easy option!

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for breaching C+D's community principles*

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for breaching C+D's community principles*

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Or opticians, oh they have....read the thread

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

I apologise I don’t know you,so can’t really comment on what you have or have not done,but your comments are really not helpful,and are quiet naive.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Oooh, how wrong you are, I suggest you retract or I might take further action. C&D can you look into this please as you arepotentially party to defamation? You have until tomorrow Mr Zeeshan.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Funny how your previous comment disappeared.

I’m neither naive, and you need to get a grip and understand why this is an issue. As an employer I’d go for it, apart from the fact I’d have to employ the student for 5 yrs while studying God’s, so it does t work for an SME.

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

Listen David I did it to be courteous to you,because as i said I have no info on your credentials.its only an issue because buisness like yourself and others see pharmacist as a number and as an expense. They don’t care about patient safety or the knowledge of a pharmacist,or how to better the skill set of a pharmacist.they just want to make sure they come away with big bucks.im sorry but pharmacy has been commercialised and the profession has been destroyed.disclaimer none of these comments relate to yourself David or form an opinion on yourself they are general comments on the overall picture.

 

 

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

And if it was an expense, I’d have clearly sold out 3yrs ago. Some of us Mr Zooshan view it as a vocation and an opportunity to push the profession forward. I’m sure some of my team will support me in this if they read the C&D!

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

 

Utter complete rubbish, you see it as an opportunity to lock in cheap labour for five years.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

They didn’t seem like that, I accept your apology, but next time please do your homework first. And seriously look at the apprenticeship framework and the current GPhC requirements. An apprenticeship and a degree in that context are not mutually exclusive, and it could work for some so don’t dismiss it without the full context

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

Plz don’t be patronising,the whole profession has become a joke I don’t need to read up on anything,a sloth knows where this is ending if the course becomes an apprenticeship.i hope pharmacist can become excluded from the big multiples and do what they were trained for,which is helping patients get the best from there meds,and the greedy corporates can go back to making there money (coz that’s all they care for).its so disheartening that you as a pharmacist would actually even consider supporting this change .

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

It’s still a degree, the apprenticeship is the funding, read about it.

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

Naive,what is the reason for an apprenticeship.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Funding

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

Sorry David what funding so who will pay for it 

 

 

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Read the thread

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

Plz just do us a favour and summarise the funding bit.(I’m begging)

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