Since September 2015, the University of Gloucestershire has been working with Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer a higher apprenticeship at Level 5 for the Trust’s Assistant Practitioners.
The Trust introduced the Assistant Practitioner role in response to a national shortfall of registered nurses and it was important to demonstrate that this role was a high quality enhancement to operational practice.
In order to provide a rigorous programme that was underpinned by a formal qualification and that would put learners on a pathway for future development, the Trust worked closely with the University of Gloucestershire to develop a higher apprenticeship framework that incorporated a foundation degree. It now has 15 members of staff who have just completed their first year and there is a cohort of approximately 17 due to start in September 2016.
Nicola Green, the Trust’s Training Lead, said: “Being actively involved in the development of the programme has provided us, the employer, with a voice on the curriculum to ensure it meets the needs of our service. The higher apprentices have developed in confidence. They are questioning a lot more and will reflect on situations to provide constructive feedback to improve patient care. They are enthusiastic in their learning and keen to share with others. Our second years will now make great buddies for our new first years as they are keen to share their knowledge and experiences.”
With significant funding available to support them, higher apprenticeships are an investment in your workforce. Moreover, by working with the University of Gloucestershire, you can ensure that this investment quickly pays dividends.
As Nicola explains: “A higher apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to develop your workforce either to undertake additional skills or to springboard into a higher level qualification. It gives individuals the chance to study at a level 5, even if they have been out of study for some time. This is a well-managed programme which provides lots of support to the students whilst engaging with the employer. We will certainly be continuing with this partnership arrangements for the foreseeable future and would recommend the provider to others”.
When asked to sum up the apprenticeship in just three words, Nicola said: “Empowering, challenging, rewarding.”