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How Government funding makes nursing apprenticeships even more attractive to employers

Nurse walking

The NHS and other healthcare providers in England are set to benefit from a boost to nursing apprenticeships thanks to new funding from Health Education England.  As part of the Government’s pledge to deliver 50,000 new nurses by the end of their current term, a £172m fund has been made available to encourage the uptake of Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeships (RNDA).

Whilst these nursing apprenticeships have proven extremely popular since their launch in 2017, the cost of replacing staff training hours has proved prohibitive for some organisations.

The new funding recognises this issue and, for employers delivering 50% or more of their services to the NHS, provides the following financial support:

  • £8,300 per apprentice per year, for the next four years
  • An additional £3,900 per year for learning disability nurse apprentices

As the largest provider of nursing apprenticeships in England, The Open University welcome this investment and the impact it will have for NHS trusts, healthcare providers and their workers, and patients.

The OU has been working collaboratively with NHS partners and other educators to make the case for investment to better support apprenticeships, giving evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee as part of their nursing apprenticeship inquiry, as well as speaking at various parliamentary events. 

Announcing the funding, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock 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.”

With over 500 nuring apprentices training with The Open University and our 68 partner employers, we know that accessibility is one of the key benefits of this route into the nursing profession.

In light of the new funding, we spoke to Fiona Dobson – Co-Qualifications Director of the RNDA at The Open University - about the difference this will make to employers implementing apprenticeships as part of their recruitment and retention strategy.

Fiona explained: “One of the challenges that employers face with nursing apprenticeships is that apprentices need to gain experience in a wide range of healthcare settings to meet the standards set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. In reality, that takes up about 60% of an apprentice’s time, which can be challenging for our practice partners.

“This financial support will allow them to fund additional staff hours to cover the time their apprentice spends studying and learning in other settings. This breaks down a major barrier that employers face when considering nursing apprenticeships, making them all the more attractive as a way to broaden and strengthen their talent pool.”

By providing a flexible, earn-while-you-learn route into the profession, apprenticeships make nurse training accessible to a much wider group of learners, especially those excluded from a full-time campus-based degree. It is a natural fit for The Open University, which has over 50 years’ experience supporting in-work flexible learning and opening up opportunity to all.

Our original reason for creating this programme was to enable healthcare providers to support and upskill Health Care Assistants who showed the interest in, and aptitude for, nursing but were prohibited from retraining due to financial or family commitments. Many have children, elderly dependents, a mortgage, and just can’t afford to step away from the pay, benefits and pension of their existing contract. This has traditionally prevented many skilled and motivated staff from training to become a nurse. “Earn-while-you-learn” degree apprenticeships allow employers to tap into their internal staff resource and “grow their own” talent.

Fiona Dobson
Co-Qualifications Director at The Open University

Opening up nurse training to a wider pool of learners has significant benefits not only for the individuals but for their employers as well.

Fiona said: “Nurses studying with The Open University show high levels of confidence, loyalty and commitment to their employer. They have strong local ties and tend to stay with their employer long-term. They are able to use their existing knowledge of the organisation to quickly develop high levels of professional performance, bringing their new insights to bear on their role straight away and delivering immediate benefits to their team and to their patients.

The Open University are proud to offer Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeships in England in the following fields:

  • Adult nursing
  • Children and young people’s nursing
  • Mental health nursing
  • Learning disability nursing

If you would like to learn more about partnering with The Open University to offer Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeships in your organisation, visit our website or contact us.

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