The UK’s first midwifery degree apprentices started their training to become fully qualified midwives yesterday (20 January) at Greenwich University.
The ‘landmark’ degree apprenticeship offers a different route into midwifery, said the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), in a bid to help tackle a midwife shortage.
The programme is open to those already employed as maternity support workers and adult nurses. And although the delivery of the apprenticeship will be different to the traditional three-year degree, the course content will be the same, according to the University of Greenwich.
A further two midwifery degree apprenticeship courses will start at the University of West London and University of Bedford in spring this year.
Skills for Health led the development of the apprenticeship alongside Health Education England.
It noted that interest in the new route has been ‘high’ despite the challenge of providing backfill for apprentices when they are off the job.
The three test sites ‘will provide good practice exemplars for approved education institutions and providers who wish to embark on this route in the future’, it added.
Under the apprenticeship route, employers can dip into the apprenticeship levy to fund staff to undertake the programme.
Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, which helped develop the apprenticeship, said ‘this kind of innovation’ around routes into midwifery is needed to tackle the shortage of 2,500 midwives.
‘This really is a landmark in UK midwifery and a cultural shift for midwifery training, offering a different route into the profession,’ she added.
Heather Bower, lead midwife for education at the University of Greenwich, said: ‘We are proud to be leading the way by developing and piloting these trailblazing apprenticeships, with trusts across the country interested in participating in the future to increase the number of trained midwives in England.’