The Department of Health has announced that it intends to create 17,000 new apprenticeships in 2016.
This initiative will form part of the overall commitment of the government to ensure that 2.3% of workers in large public sector bodies are apprentices.
With the process forming an important part of the NHS staffing provisions going forward, it is already estimated that the number of apprenticeships will skyrocket to 100,000 by the end of this Parliament.
Opportunities will be made available in a wide variety of fields, with nursing and healthcare assistants and across IT, estates and facilities, domestic and housekeeping services, and business administration and accounting all areas expected to benefit.
There are numerous advantages of apprenticeship programs, not least for a health service that is struggling with staffing, financial and logistical issues.
But it is particularly expected that the initiative will broaden the potential routes into training and employment in the health service, attracting young people who would otherwise be dissuaded from seeking a career in health, and ultimately resulting in a more diverse and educated workforce.
Although 17,000 apprenticeships are being creative, the government was also keen to emphasise that this would not necessarily result in 17,000 new employees.
The opportunity will be available for existing NHS workers to take on new training provisions, or enhance their current role in some way.
In some regions, work is already underway to ensure apprentices are able to continue working within trusts.
Health minister Ben Gummer MP was positive about the potential of the scheme and the influence that he could have on the NHS.
“I am immensely proud that the NHS is leading the way in offering thousands of aspiring young people the opportunity to become an apprentice. We will work with trusts across the country to improve access to a career in the healthcare system for anyone who has the drive and values to pursue it.”
Gummer also suggested that the scheme to create 17,000 new apprentices was indicative of the positive plans that the government has for the health service.
“This apprenticeship plan, along with the £10bn we have invested to back the NHS’s own plans for the future, will ensure staff have the opportunity to develop their careers in both existing and also new and exciting roles such as nursing associates.”
The announcement closely follows the government’s consultation on its reformed apprenticeship target for public sector bodies, initially confirmed by the prime minister last year.
Meanwhile, the government continues to face problems related To staff in particular with regard To the ongoing dispute with junior doctors and nurses.
This initiative may thus play a role in resolving numerous logistical issues.