The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Q&A on apprenticeship developments

The CSP can see the benefits of expanding the physiotherapy workforce through apprenticeships, providing programmes fully uphold graduate-level skills.

Use our Q&A on apprenticeship developments to find out what government plans mean for the profession:

What’s new?

New arrangements - including targets, funding and structures - are due to come into effect in England from April 2017. They form part of the government’s implementation of the 2016 Enterprise Act, for which the Department for Education is responsible. Key features of the apprenticeship scheme are set out below:

  • the government has set a target of three million new places by 2020, including specific targets for public sector bodies
  • larger organisations are due to ensure over two per cent of their workforce progress through apprenticeships
  • the NHS in England is set to provide over 27,000 apprenticeships in 2017/18
  • new national apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led initiatives
  • all apprenticeships will have to adhere to a set of minimum criteria and an Institute for Apprenticeships will oversee standards, quality and rigour for the scheme.

Apprenticeships are being progressed across the UK, but at a different pace and with different structures.

What’s the thinking behind apprenticeship developments?

The rationale for progressing the apprenticeship agenda is to enhance skills and workforce development. Key objectives are to:

  • develop skills in all parts of the economy, in line with distinct occupational roles
  • enable employers to define and develop the skills and workforce they need
  • enhance the quality of work-based learning and its standing alongside academic routes
  • increase the transferability of skills between and across employers
  • widen participation and increase social mobility, and also boost opportunities for career progression
  • strengthen partnership-working between employers and education providers.

Why is this agenda significant for physiotherapy?

Apprenticeships have existed for some time. However, they have not been strongly progressed to date within healthcare or the public sector. They have also tended to be at lower skills levels and not necessarily contributed to high-quality national schemes.

Within the government's new policy framework, there is a focus on:

  • creating degree-level apprenticeships that can provide entry routes into established professions
  • developing more advanced level opportunities such as Masters' degrees and potentially even doctorates.

Such developments would therefore support the post-registration health and social care workforce. And a focus on developing a national standard for each route and level of apprenticeship would help increase their currency.

Apprenticeships relating to advanced practice need to enable individuals’ progression into a distinctly different role. They have the potential to form the main route through which post-registration education is supported.

What is happening in physiotherapy?

Developments relating to physiotherapy are happening quickly:

  • an expression of interest to produce a degree apprenticeship standard for physiotherapy was given ministerial approval in January 2017 (following its submission in November 2016)
  • a level 3 allied health professions therapy support apprenticeship standard has been developed
  • there is an increasing focus on how Master’s level apprenticeships can provide routes into post-registration healthcare job roles and career progression.

The trailblazer group to develop the degree apprenticeship standard for physiotherapy is being set up, led by the Lincolnshire United Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Hallam University.

How is the CSP engaging with the apprenticeship agenda?

The society is prioritising work in the area given the initiative's potential to increase entry to the profession and develop the physiotherapy workforce.

Current activity includes:

  • asserting the CSP’s established role in setting and assuring high-quality education and workforce development standards, as well as those relating to employment
  • promoting the value of CSP involvement at all key stages of apprenticeship development, implementation and evaluation, including national coordination, collaboration and learning
  • seeking to ensure the apprenticeship agenda is integrated into strategic approaches to health and care workforce planning, development and investment
  • reviewing how the CSP’s accreditation process is implemented, and in particular, ensuring its currency and responsiveness
  • promoting member engagement in the agenda and its resulting opportunities and challenges.

Find out more

Apprenticeships in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions, Council of Deans of Health briefing paper (September 2016)

Guidance for trailblazers – Future of apprenticeships in England, Department for Education (Updated October 2016)

Apprenticeship funding in England from May 2017, Department for Education (October 2016)

Apprenticeship funding and how it will work, Department for Education (January 2017)

Apprenticeships policy in England, House of Commons Library briefing paper 03052 (November 2016)

Skills to succeed – Apprenticeships, Northern Ireland direct government services

Modern apprenticeships, Skills Development Scotland

Apprenticeship information, Welsh government


More from the CSP

Last reviewed

7 February 2017
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