Headlines: February 22nd, 2008

The number of people successfully completing apprenticeships in health and social care has tripled in the last two years and increased six-fold since the start of the new millennium. Around 500 apprentices per month are being awarded completion certificates. Adult Apprenticeships are also on the increase, with over 70 being successfully completed during 2007.

Skills for Health, the Sector Skills Council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors, made the figures public following a statement from the Prime Minister, who told a conference in London that he wants to see “a new national effort and mobilisation to win the skills race” involving an increase in the number of apprentices from 1 in 15 to 1 in 5.

Apprenticeships are seen as an effective way to improve patient care and deliver high quality services by making sure the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time. Conditions are favourable for developing the apprenticeship scheme because the higher minimum age at which young people can leave education or training is encouraging them to consider apprenticeships as an option.

As well as addressing skills gaps, apprenticeships are leading to increased staff retention and they are also supporting succession planning. Apprenticeships are also being increasingly used as gateways to accelerated routes into nurse training.

Apprenticeships are available in health and social care, dental nursing, pharmacy support and in health support services.