The UK government has announced a new nursing apprenticeship scheme, which means people who want to train in this discipline will no longer necessarily have to achieve a degree at university, but will instead be able to learn on the job.
The Department of Health has revealed that up to 1,000 placements will be created for aspiring nurses from September 2017 onwards, which will allow people to gain an official nursing qualification while getting experience and earning money, making it a more affordable option than a degree in some cases. This is because the government is planning to scrap the bursaries that student nurses can receive to support their studies as of next September.
In addition, apprentice nurses will be able to begin placements at different stages depending on the level of experience they already have, and will be able to continue working in another job alongside the course.
After five years of training in this way, nursing apprentices will have gained a nursing degree and will be fully qualified, whereas those who have studied to become qualified nursing associates would still need to undergo further training.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt commented: "Nurses are the lifeblood of our NHS, but the routes to a nursing degree currently shut out some of the most caring, compassionate staff in our country.
"Not everyone wants to take time off to study full-time at university, so by creating hundreds of new apprentice nurses, we can help healthcare assistants and others reach their potential as a fully-trained nurse."
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has welcomed the government's plans, but stressed that it was important that those in charge of putting the apprenticeship scheme together made sure the course fulfilled educational requirements.
What's more, RCN chief executive Janet Davies said it was vital that apprentice nurses were not seen as less valuable or qualified than those going down the more traditional university training route.
Written by James Puckle
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