The government is set to launch a national apprenticeship scheme for prospective nursing students later this year, Nursing Times understands.
The scheme will most likely see cadet schemes and HCA training expanded to prepare aspiring nursing students for the rigours of a nursing degree.
Nursing Times has learnt that the government will launch the new scheme in a bid to ensure recruitment from the widest possible pool of applicants.
Health ministers are understood to be worried that without a specific programme to help those from non-traditional academic backgrounds the number of people applying for a degree in nursing could fall dramatically.
One of the main criticisms of an all-graduate entry profession is that it could prove a disincentive for those from less academic backgrounds and lead to a less diverse recruitment pool.
A recent research review by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London concluded that around one-third of current entrants to the profession each year do not have sufficient qualifications to undertake a degree.
Apprenticeships would offer a period of training to help prepare those from less academic background for the challenges of completing a degree.
Proposals currently being considered by government officials include extending existing cadet nursing programmes - currently run in some NHS trusts and usually comprising 26 weeks in a hospital setting and 20 weeks at a higher education institute – and rebranding them as apprenticeship scheme. Those who succesfully complete the new schemes could go on to access degree-level nurse training.
Trusts that already run such schemes include Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust in London.
The Whittington scheme, which is run in partnership with the North Central London Workforce Development Confederation, is longer... [continues]
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