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Nurses to be offered ‘earn and learn’ route

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Written by: Emma Lunn
10/08/2020
A new government package worth £172m will help to train thousands more nursing degree apprentices.

Nursing careers in England will be made more accessible through a new government package worth up to £172m, which will enable healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next four years.

The news comes as interest in health careers has surged, with the number of people looking for information on nursing on the NHS careers website rising by 138% between March and June.

Up until 2016-17 students doing a first degree in nursing received a bursary from the government worth up to £16,454 a year to help boost the NHS’s supply of nurses.

But then-chancellor George Osborne scrapped bursaries in favour of loans.

Nursing degree apprenticeships

Nursing degree apprenticeships provide a route into nursing where people can train to nationally recognised standards and earn as they learn, benefiting those for whom a full-time university course is not practical or preferred.

Under the scheme, NHS and other healthcare employers will receive £8,300 per placement per year for both new and existing apprenticeships. Nursing degree apprentices already receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme.

The funding will enable employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training.

Four-year course

The nursing degree apprenticeship is a four-year course with placements available in the four fields of adult, children, mental health and learning disability, after which students can qualify as fully registered nurses. NHS and social care employers currently train around 1,000 nurse apprentices every year.

In addition to this funding, employers in England will also benefit from a new payment announced last month of £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up until 31 January 2021.

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: “I’m thrilled to see a rising interest in nursing careers, but we must ensure this fantastic career is truly diverse and open to all.

“Nursing apprenticeships allow students to earn as they learn and this new funding will enable healthcare employers to hire thousands more, helping us to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament.”

Gillian Keegan, apprenticeships and skills minister, said: “Nursing apprenticeships are a brilliant way to start a truly rewarding career with our fantastic NHS.  Nurses are at the heart of our NHS and their care, compassion and support of patients save and transform lives across the country every day.

“This multi-million pound funding boost will help to support thousands of apprentices to gain the skills they need, and earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone, regardless of their background, to kick start their career or to progress.”

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