Following on a 10 day consultation on plans to introduce five-year apprenticeship, we are asking the IATE for urgent clarity and greater transparency.
In light of the significant reservations expressed by our members, the IFA and trailblazer group must provide further details that will enable us and our members to better understand the deliberations that have taken place to date. This will allow the profession to take an informed view rather than be reliant on speculation.
The RPS letter published in full:
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
151 Buckingham Palace Road
16 April 2019
To whom it may concern
Level 7 Pharmacy Degree Apprenticeship
We are writing in our capacity as the Professional Leadership Body for pharmacists. Our members work across all sectors of the pharmacy profession and their views are represented by country Boards and a national Assembly of elected members.
With regards to the above apprenticeship proposal, we are aware that the IFA has national requirements and processes for the development of an apprenticeship which trailblazer groups are required to follow. We recognise that the recent short consultation on the proposal for a level 7 pharmacist degree apprenticeship is in keeping with IFA requirements and focuses on the occupation profile as opposed to a description of what a 5 year pharmacy degree apprenticeship would look like. Despite this we are very concerned about the lack of communication of these processes as part of the consultation. Understandably, there has been considerable concern from our members regarding:
- The equivalence of an apprenticeship qualification with the currently available MPharm degrees and pre-registration training
- The academic content of a degree funded via the apprenticeship levy
- The design and ratio of workplace learning versus service delivery in a 5 year programme
- The protection for learners on an apprenticeship programme from exploitation by their employers
- Timing of this process alongside GPhC proposed changes to the Initial Education and Training Standards
- Funding levels to allow for an increase in clinical placements
- Perception by the public of apprenticeships
We note recent correspondence from the GPhC confirming that a degree apprenticeship must be subject to full accreditation processes to ensure that it meets all of the initial education and training standards. This includes the learning outcomes and admissions requirements.
We are aware that all of the concerns highlighted above would normally be considered in the development of an apprenticeship standard (i.e. stage 2) before progressing any further.
In light of the significant reservations expressed by our members, the IFA and trailblazer group must provide further details that will enable our members to better understand the deliberations that have taken place to date. This will allow the profession to take an informed view rather than be reliant on speculation. Without this level of transparency and detail, we are unable to engage in an informed debate with our membership.
We would also like to draw attention to the wording within the proposal which says that the professional leadership body was consulted. This has been misunderstood by some organisations to mean that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has commented or contributed to the development of the proposal. We would like to confirm that this is not the case.
Gail Fleming FRPharmS MBA MSc BSc (Hons)
RPS Director of Education and Professional Development