A radical transformation of apprenticeships could have significant implications for the physiotherapy workforce
An apprenticeship – for a junior post for a school leaver with workplace learning and possibly a day release college course one day a week – is a long tradition in the UK workplace.
However, that model has evolved over recent years, and government-driven initiatives mean that it is due to extend to higher job role levels and across the workforce and skills areas.
In time, it should be possible to become a physiotherapist through this route, while there could be exciting new opportunities for members at post-registration level and for physiotherapy support workers.
- In 2017/18, the target for new apprenticeships for the NHS in England is 27,000 places
- Subject to development, new apprenticeships at degree level (level 6) should offer the opportunity to train as a physiotherapist without going to university full-time. They will allow the apprentice to work and earn some money while they are learning
- The challenge is to ensure the learning experience and the end qualification is of equal quality and status to current physiotherapy degrees
- Apprenticeships are increasingly not just be for people starting out in their career. They will also be offered at Master's level. This has the potential to offer members the opportunity to develop into advanced practice roles through pursing a Master's level (level 7) apprenticeship.
The CSP sees apprenticeships as positive steps for expanding routes into and within the physiotherapy profession and widening access. However it is key that the quality in terms of learning, employment and professional standards are upheld. There are moves afoot to develop apprenticeship standards relating to physiotherapy at level 6 and 7. These bids - known as an 'expression of interest' - have to be led by the employers, working with education providers.
The government timetable for consultation on expressions of interest to develop an apprenticeship standard is incredibly tight - two weeks. This leaves little time for the CSP to consult its wider membership as much as it might like.