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GPhC: Apprenticeship would not be shortcut to qualification

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GPhC: Apprenticeship would not be shortcut to qualification

By Neil Trainis

The General Pharmaceutical Council has said any pharmacy degree apprenticeship scheme that may emerge as a result of its talks with the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) will not be a shortcut to qualification.

The latest plans to introduce the apprenticeship, which were first put forward in 2019 and later found to have been driven by some of the largest pharmacy chains before falling by the wayside when the Covid pandemic hit, include making the registration the end-point assessment for the apprenticeship and pharmacy’s regulator “the end-point assessment organisation". The GPhC stressed no decision has yet been made.

News that the proposals are back on the table was greeted with concern by some pharmacists on Twitter. One said they were outraged at having gone through four years of study to qualify and taken on thousands of pounds of debt in the process, only “to find the GPhC is conjuring up a shortcut for the degree".

Another pharmacist tweeted it was “terrible” and insisted “the pharmacy master degree must not become an apprenticeship".

However, the GPhC told Independent Community Pharmacist the proposal being discussed is not a shortcut to qualification and insisted the apprenticeship scheme must meet the criteria of initial pharmacist registration “to ensure the required standards are met".

These standards would still include completing a Great Britain or Northern Ireland-accredited four-year pharmacy degree, a 52-week programme of foundation training and the registration assessment, said the GPhC. 

Asda, Boots, Rowlands, LloydsPharmacy, Well and Superdrug were revealed to be part of a group behind a proposal to introduce degree-level apprenticeships three years ago.  

At the time, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association said it could not support the proposals unless the views of individual pharmacists were taken into account. In a statement yesterday, the PDA claimed large employers were keen to support the apprenticeship so they can recoup a 0.5 per cent “apprenticeship levy” which they contribute to their annual pay bill.

“They can only get this money back if they use it to fund apprenticeship schemes. That can give those employers a significant incentive to make efforts to get that money and increase their workforce by adding apprentices,” the PDA said.

The Company Chemists’ Association told ICP it could not provide a response as it was for individual members to decide. 

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