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?

Since April 2017 all employers with a pay bill over £3 million each year, must pay the apprenticeship levy. The Apprenticeship Levy is charged at 0.5 per cent of the annual pay bill.  

Apprenticeships are a devolved policy - authorities in each of the UK nations manage their own apprenticeship programmes, including how funding is spent on apprenticeship training. While the Apprenticeship Levy is applied in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the employer digital account are only used in England. The CSP is keen to ensure that learning on apprenticeship development and implementation across the UK is shared, while recognising that the apprenticeship structures and processes are different in each country.

Public sector organisations have been tasked with ensuring 2.3 per cent of their total workforce progress through apprenticeships 

Apprenticeships in health and social care are being discussed and progressed across the UK, but at a different pace and with different structures.

What is happening in physiotherapy?

Developments relating to physiotherapy are progressing quickly: 

  • The level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Worker (SHCSW), apprenticeship is available and has options for an AHP therapy support 
  • The level 5 assistant practitioner is available. The Care Certificate is incorporated within the first year of the programme. 
  • The level 6 physiotherapist degree apprenticeship standard has been approved. The assessment plan is currently  awaiting approval from  the Institute for Apprenticeships.
  • All physiotherapy degree apprenticeship programmes will need to be approved by the HCPC and the CSP
  • The Institute for Apprenticeships has agreed to  a pre-registration Level 7 apprenticeship as an entry level qualification into healthcare professions.
  • The Level 7 Advanced Clinical Practitioner apprenticeship has been signed off by the Institute for Apprenticeships as ready for delivery. Universities are now in the process of developing these programmes.

How is the CSP engaging with the apprenticeship agenda?

Current activity includes: 

  • CSP staff contributing to the NHS Staff Council discussions on apprentices’ rates of pay
  • Revision of CSP position statement on apprenticeships to reflect developments 
  • Review of the CSP’s accreditation process  is underway so that we can be responsive to degree apprenticeships as a means of entry into the profession.
  • Lobbying the Institute for Apprenticeships for clearer guidance and details regarding quality assurance issues  - specifically, the External Quality Assurance role
  • Instigation of discussions with the HCPC on how the two organisations can best work together during apprenticeship degree accreditation process.

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.

Find out more

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

Policy guide: Degree apprenticeships, Higher Education Funding Council for England (September 2016)

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

Last reviewed: