Skills for Health Bridging Programme (England)

Image: Bridging programme.

The Skills for Health Bridging Programme develops the study skills that motivated and capable healthcare and social care support workers need to prepare, progress and succeed in all health related vocational programmes in Higher Education, including vocational Foundation Degrees and vocational HE Diplomas.

The Bridging Programme is for strategic use by healthcare employers interested in ‘growing their own’ health professional staff. Healthcare employers are universally supportive of the Bridging Programme and its aims.

About the Bridging Programme

Image: Bridge.The Bridging Programme includes a national qualification and takes around 12-20 weeks to complete part-time. The Programme develops skills in academic research and writing, examination technique and planning and preparation for entry to HE. Different Awarding Organisations offer the qualification but the units, title and assessment requirements are identical.

The key aim of the Bridging Programme is for healthcare support workers to have their vocational learning achievements recognised, as valid for meeting entry requirements to Higher Education health related vocational programmes. The Bridging Programme is an essential component of necessary preparation for HE – helping reduce HEI attrition rates, preparing applicants to succeed autonomously in HE.

Image: Bridging.Skills for Health has written to all HEIs) running health-related vocational programmes in England, asking them to commit to considering applications from all candidates with the Bridging Programme combination.

Several have already signed up.

Why should HEIs commit to considering all Bridging Programme applicants?

A HEI commitment to consider all Bridging Programme applicants would provide clear HE progression possibilities to the healthcare support workforce. All Bridging Programme applicants (like any others) would need to show they have the right values and behaviours for entry – no right to entry is being requested.

A number of factors are now crucial in workforce planning: the Apprenticeship levy, removal of NHS bursaries for undergraduates and introduction of student loans, the introduction of Nursing Associates and the Nursing Apprenticeship and the development of Degree Apprenticeships in other healthcare professions – all will all raise aspirations among the current workforce.

The new orthodoxies brought by the Government’s Teaching and Excellence Framework will ‘recognise [Higher Education] institutions that do the most to welcome students from a range of backgrounds and support their retention and progression’. Bridging Programme applicants are likely to meet these expectations and provide HEIs with evidence to support their efforts.

Skills for Health works with Bridging Programme partners to help them in assembling and agreeing the different elements required to create a new route for the healthcare support workforce to progress into all health related vocational programmes in Higher Education.

HEIs are asked to respond by mailing Skills for Health a simple letter, signed by a person authorised to do so; which confirms the suitability of the Certificate in Bridging Skills for Higher Education for entry to (specified) Health related vocational programmes, and states other qualification requirements for entry (e.g., a Level 3 vocational qualification in Health, specified English and maths competence and qualifications). HEIs can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

“Buckingham New University supports the initiative to provide health workers with the opportunity to progress by developing the skills they would need to succeed in an HE environment. We believe that the OCNLR Level 3 Certificate in Bridging Skills for Higher Education is a vital qualification for learners in the Health and Social care field who need support to progress because it provides valuable knowledge and study skills they are unlikely to have acquired previously. These skills will assist in strengthening their applications and support their academic progress.

Dr Alison Chambers, Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Health, Buckingham New University.

Why do the Bridging Programme?

The Bridging Programme is for motivated and capable healthcare assistants and many others in the healthcare workforce who would like to move on to a range of programmes that lead to registration as a health professional and all other health related vocational programmes in Higher Education, including vocational Foundation Degrees and vocational HE Diplomas. For many, the Bridging Programme opens up a new opportunity to progress professionally in healthcare.

Image: Bridging Programme eLeaflet.

Interested in the Skills for Health Bridging Programme?

You can download our eLeaflet with an overview here.

Free Webinars

To be kept informed about the Bridging Programme - including invites to free webinars - register here.

March 8 10-11am: How the Bridging Programme works – the learner, employer, provider perspective – What can we learn from early adopters?

Register now:

This webinar will explore the ups and downs, pros and cons of getting the Bridging Programme in place - sharing stories from learners, FE and HE providers, healthcare employers and awarding organisations.

You can ask your questions in advance or during the webinar - and participants will be able to share their experiences.

The webinars are aimed at healthcare employers, HEIs, FE providers, Awarding Organisations, and potential learners from the healthcare support workforce.

“Really interesting, the presenters went back to basics, helped me understand where the University fits. Webinar worked well, appreciated asking questions & them being answered.”

“I have already had one briefing on the project but the webinar gave me more detail.”

“We will now explore further at local and regional level as part of workforce development."

“I’m now going to feedback to colleagues at HEI and see how we may incorporate this into our admissions process."

Interested in getting involved?