The Department of Health (DH) has released a policy paper, detailing new information about upcoming nursing apprenticeships.
Apprentice nurses will train as Level 6 registered nurses within four years, and their education will be fully funded by employers.
The nursing degree apprenticeship – which launches in September 2017 – will allow people to train as qualified nurses through an apprentice route, as well as the traditional degree pathway.
Apprentices will divide their time between their employer and an NMC-approved education provider, where they will study part-time and train in a range of practice placement settings.
The DH’s new factsheet gives further details on how people can apply to become a nurse apprentice, how it will be funded, and the possibility for nursing associates to progress as apprentices.
The cost of the apprenticeships will be paid by employers and not trainees, the DH confirmed. And the money for it will come from a collective levy fund.
Therefore, the nursing apprentices will not be affected by the loss of bursaries faced by other student nurses.
The Government will introduce an apprenticeship levy on 6 April 2017, which will require all employers with a pay bill over £3m each year to invest in apprenticeships.
Levy-paying employers will be required to spend 0.5% of their pay bill (equal to their employees’ taxable earnings) towards a Government-held apprenticeship fund.
Those employers will then be able to access the funding for apprenticeships through a new digital apprenticeship service account.
By 2020, all employers in England will be able to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships.
Most nursing degree apprenticeships will take four years to complete. However, it could take less time if the apprentice has prior learning and experience accepted by their educator under Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) arrangements.
It will be possible for nursing associates (Level 5) to progress to becoming nurse apprentices (Level 6) as a path to graduating as a registered nurse.
It may even be possible for nursing associates to count some of their learning and experience from that training towards the degree-level apprenticeship, and complete it in fewer than four years.
The first round of nursing apprentices will begin their training in September 2017. According to the DH, employers will advertise apprentice vacancies “nearer the time”. In the meantime, current health or social care workers who are interested should speak to their employer about taking the apprenticeship.