Over the past few years, as part of the Government drive to upskill the workforce, including the health and care workforce, there has been a focus on Apprenticeships. In 2017, the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy and established an Institute for Apprenticeships.
What is an apprenticeship?
The Institute for Apprenticeships describes an apprenticeship as “a job with training to industry standards. It should be about entry to a recognised occupation, involve a substantial programme of on and off-the-job training and the apprentice’s occupational competence should be tested by an independent, end point assessment. Apprenticeships are employer-led: employers set the standards, create the demand for apprentices to meet their skills needs, fund the apprenticeship and are responsible for employing and training the apprentice” [Institute for Apprentices, 2018].
Types of Dietetic apprenticeship
There are many different types of apprenticeships. The BDA is currently involved in the following:
- Degree Apprenticeship [Dietitian]
- Advanced Clinical Practitioner
The BDA is supportive in principle of the development of apprenticeships which relate to the dietetic workforce, subject to apprenticeship schemes meeting the following criteria:
- High quality delivery;
- Occupational standard adhering to BDA curriculum guidelines;
- Standard aligning with HCPC requirements for eligibility to practise as a dietitian in the UK;
- Learner experience and outcomes are in line with the quality expected by the BDA.
Occupational role: Dietitian
Dietitians work with individuals, groups and communities to enable people to manage their nutrition and food related issues to improve their health. Dietitians assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems, using advanced communication and behaviour change skills to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
The development of the above apprenticeship follows a set process, starting with the submission of a proposal, followed by the development of an occupational standard and subsequent consultation, finishing with the development of an end point assessment and training plan. All of the above processes are managed by the Institute for Apprenticeships who approve or reject each stage of the process.
Full details of the process can be found here.
Following on from the successful proposal by the profession to develop an apprenticeship standard for dietetic degree level training [level 6] in September 2017, work has been progressing on the development of an occupational standard. The standard is a document that describes what the apprentice will know, understand and be able to do at the end of their apprenticeship.
As per Skills for Health guidance, apprenticeship standards are developed by a trailblazing group which is an employer led steering group. Friday 27th October 2017 saw the first meeting of the BDA’s apprenticeship trailblazer group. The group consists of dietetic managers from the NHS and industry alongside dietitians from Universities, staff from Skills for Health and the BDA Board Members.
The standard has been submitted for approval in July 2018 and will be out for consultation in July/Aug 2018. This involves seeking the input of professional body membership, non-member dietitians and managers, employers and educators, whose opinions about the draft standard will be sought via the public consultation process. The BDA is encouraging all members to partake in the consultation.
Work is also progressing on the end point assessment and training plan, with the aim that the apprenticeship will be available in 2019, subject to meeting the above criteria.
- Apprenticeships can help meet the demands of both the current and future workforce by offering the opportunity for career progression to those already working in healthcare settings and the existing dietetic workforce;
- Allied Health Professional Apprenticeships are new and the financial model on which the apprenticeships are based will need to be tested in terms of their viability for both education providers and employers;
- Employers will need to recognise and plan for the demands of supporting high quality on the job learning;
- Developing the Dietetic Apprenticeship will take time as the various stages are worked through.
Advanced Clinical Practitioner [ACP]
ACPs are experienced clinicians who demonstrate expertise in their scope of practice. They manage defined episodes of clinical care independently, from beginning to end, providing care and treatment from the time an individual first presents through to the end of the episode, which may include admission, referral or discharge or care at home.
ACPs carry out their full range of duties in relation to individuals’ physical and mental healthcare and in acute, primary, urgent and emergency settings (including hospitals, general practice, individuals’ homes, schools and prisons, and in the public, independent, private and charity sectors). They combine expert clinical skills with research, education and clinical leadership within their scope of practice. Advanced Clinical Practitioners work innovatively on a one to one basis with individuals as well as part of a wider team. ACPs work as part of the wider health and social care team and across traditional professional boundaries in health and social care.
The ACP apprenticeship was approved for delivery in March 2018 by the Institute for Apprenticeships, an independent public body which works with employers to develop apprenticeship standards and assessment plans. See Institute of Apprenticeship for more details.