20th November 2015 Written by Lucy Blinko

Image: Health Trailblazer Apprenticeship.Skills for Health warmly congratulates the first Assistant Practitioner Apprentices who have just claimed their certificates

Skills for Health Apprenticeship Certification Team are delighted to announce that they have just issued the first certificates to Assistant Practitioner Apprentices.  Apprenticeships are already central to how you train your staff. Every year an increasing number of support workers at Level 2 and 3 complete apprenticeships, claim certificates and enter the workforce as competent, well-trained members of staff. Now they are joined by a new band of apprentice Assistant Practitioners.

Five apprentices in Lancashire are the first to receive their certificates for a Higher Apprenticeship in Health (Assistant Practitioner). They were trained by Stella Maris Training, based in Burnley, and studied the “Level 5 Diploma for Assistant Practitioners in Healthcare” qualification offered by City & Guilds.

Completing an apprenticeship takes a great deal of hard work and dedication.

“It has been difficult but that was expected.  I knew I would have to put hard work in, especially in the evenings, but it has been worth it.”
Yvonne, apprentice at Clayton Medical Centre, Clayton-le-Moors.

Employers and apprentices alike value the unique mixture of academic training and on-the job experience that apprenticeships offer. Stella Maris Training delivers academic teaching via a series of weekly face-to-face classes. These are accompanied by a series of in-depth assignments that apprentices complete at home.  Apprentices are also supported and mentored within their workplaces.

“This cohort was very active. They asked lots of questions and the sessions were lively. Being a small group we could also focus closely on their individual job roles.”
Sophie McIntosh, Tutor at Stella Maris Training

The five apprentices are all employed by NHS organisations and work in primary care. Mainly mature and experienced healthcare support workers, some of them juggle parenting and other responsibilities whilst working and studying. It has been hard at times but they feel that it has been worth the effort. As Assistant Practitioner roles are locally developed the five apprentices all carry out different roles. The programme is purposely designed to enable them to contextualise what they learn at college to their own role. Studying together gives them the chance to learn from each other as well as from the college staff and mentors.

“Listening to someone else’s views on a piece of homework gives you insight. I liked the classroom learning. The mentors were really good and always there if you needed them.”
Yvonne, apprentice at Clayton Medical Centre, Clayton-le-Moors.

The future is bright for the recently qualified apprentices. Some now supervise a team, others use specific clinical skills with an increased level of responsibility and accountability.

“It gives me more job satisfaction knowing I am competent to carry extra roles and contribute more to the practice”.
Emily, apprentice at the Montague Practice, Blackburn.

One learner enjoyed the academic side of the training so much that she has already started an assessor course so she can support other HCAs in their own learning and development.

Apprenticeship Certificates are highly valued. Stella Maris Training were delighted to be the first organisation to claim theirs. The apprentices and their employers are proud of what they have achieved and the positive impact it has had on their work.

“It is important to get a certificate as proof of course completion and qualification obtained for personal development plans and also CQC”
Ann Harwood, Practice Manager, the Montague Practice, Blackburn

“Having a certificate provides the recognition that I am trained to a higher level and assures patients that I am qualified to do what I do.”
Emily, apprentice at the Montague Practice, Blackburn.

Claim yours: If you are a newly qualified Assistant Practitioner who has also completed your apprenticeship find out how to claim here, under ‘Certification FAQs’.

Offered by a wide range of providers and employers, Higher Apprenticeships in Health (Assistant Practitioner) were introduced in May 2013. Over two years, apprentices complete either a Foundation Degree or an Occupational Competence Diploma qualification at academic Level 5. As well as City & Guilds, 16 Universities currently offer the Higher Apprenticeship, delivered via more than thirty different courses. New providers are being added regularly.

“Congratulations to all the apprentices for their success in achieving the Level 5 Diploma which was developed by health employers and City & Guilds to meet the range of different Assistant Practitioner roles.”
Paul Robottom, National Portfolio Adviser, City & Guilds

Offer it too: If you are an education provider who would like to offer this apprenticeship a link to download the Core Competence and Knowledge framework and further details on how to become compliant can be found under ‘Higher Level Apprenticeships’.

Apprentice numbers are increasing. The government has pledged to increase apprenticeships to 3 million by 2020.  Many future healthcare apprentices are already in our workforce. Introducing Assistant Practitioner roles is one of the many ways you are managing the increased demand placed on services from an ageing population and increasing levels of earlier onset preventable diseases. Using apprenticeships is a great way for you to continue to increase the resilience and adaptability of your workforce whilst also meeting the aspirations and personal development goals of individual staff members who may have hit ‘glass ceilings’ in their career progression through a lack of evidence of academic and practical training.

“The five apprentices at Stella Maris Training are just the beginning. Six more are due to complete in the next quarter, followed by a further fourteen by the summer of 2016. As the programme matures the cohort sizes have also increased, 15 new apprentices joined in August.”
Phil Wright, Training Development Director, Stella Maris Training

Skills for Health is looking forward to issuing more Assistant Practitioner Apprenticeship certificates soon.

“Employers interviewed observed that, during the courses, candidates were engaging in their work at a higher level. When they had completed courses, they were able to undertake a wider range of tasks with a greater degree of autonomy compared to before they had started.”
Skills for Health research team July 2015

Read more about apprenticeships: If you would like to read more about Apprenticeships at level 5 please see the Skills for Health Expert Paper Higher Apprenticeships in the South West July 2015. You may also be interested in the Trailblazer Apprenticeship development work in England.