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Apprentices are for life…not just for Christmas!       

December 2021      Kusham Nijhar

This blog is a 5-minute read.  But if you prefer to jump to the key points, just click on the links below!

Make the coffee, do the photocopying and answer the phone.  For many of us this was the perception of an apprentice. Don’t get me wrong, there are some brilliant examples of successful apprentices – think celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, famous footballer David Beckham and actor extraordinaire Sir Ian McKellan.  In the past, apprenticeships in the trade industries were largely successful, but the reality for many businesses was that apprenticeship programmes were viewed as second rate to their traditional qualification counterparts.  Around 2012, the business sector moaned about the quality of apprenticeships and the Government responded by carrying out the Richard Review of Apprenticeships in England.  Fast forward to 2017 and a significant element of the Apprenticeship Reforms came into effect – the Apprenticeship Levy, meaning – apprenticeships have changed! 

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax that large employers are required to pay, which can then be reclaimed for apprenticeship training.  There are more than 600 standardised apprenticeship programmes and anyone can do an apprenticeship – from entry level roles through to the CEO! 

Apprenticeships are therefore a serious contender in developing your existing workforce, as well as bringing in fresh blood to your business.  Let’s face it, the Primary Care workforce is ageing and attrition rates are on the rise.  We need to find a way of keeping our experienced staff, like the Wise Fives Sage programme, and train people at entry-level alongside.  I believe that apprenticeships will have a key role in developing people over the coming years.  Why?  The reasons are many, but to summarise in 3 points:

  1. Apprenticeships are vocational – learners immediately start to orient into your business and bring in benefits much quicker than when they are training via traditional qualification routes. This saves on both money and time.
  2. Large organisations are not able to utilise all their apprenticeship levy tax and are seeking ways to fund smaller organisations in their local area.
  3. This point I love the most – apprenticeships open the doors for people who may not have been able to qualify earlier in their life, for people who are disadvantaged, for career changers and those who want to return to work but need to gain new qualifications or simply need the confidence to re-enter the labour market.

If Apprenticeships are so great, then why aren’t we all doing them already? 

It’s true, in the quest to make sure apprenticeships are of a high calibre, there are some rules that can make apprenticeship implementation tricky. There’s a lot to think about; funding, salaries, high quality training providers, entry requirements, supervision, 20% off-the-job training.   Whilst I feel your pain, I do believe the rules are well intentioned.  And I’m here to support you through the process.

Any qualification training worth its salt requires short-term pain for long-term gain. Providing supervision and mentoring and allowing the individual time to consolidate their learning ensures that you are building up the psychological contract with your apprentice – you’re making them feel valued and in return they too are invested with you.  The evidence is there – the apprentice retention rate in the NHS is 70%.  A Social Mobility Commission blog states that that 92% of organisations they surveyed reported more motivated staff and 80% reported higher retention rates. 

So why take on an Apprentice for life?  Apprenticeships can…

  • Boost productivity – think Nursing Associate, Clinical Coders and Physician Associates to name a few roles
  • Bring current research, ideas, creativity, and vibrancy to your organisation
  • Enhance your succession plans by progressing apprentices through the ranks to become the managers and clinical leads of the future
  • Enable you to develop people in a way that addresses a specific skills gap, therefore, investing in the future of your staff and your organisation

Gone are the days when you picked out a young ‘un, paid them the minimum wage and once they qualified, watch them leave…leaving you to start all over again!

Think Careers in Primary Care.  Think career pathways. Here are a couple of examples:

Final points

Is there a risk with developing apprentices?  Of course there is, as there is with any other new employee you recruit.  But something’s got to give.  The Primary Care sector is the front door to the NHS, we have responsibilities to ease the burden on acute services, all whilst dealing with increased attrition rates.  Add to this the looming increase in retirement owed to a knackered and ageing workforce – vocational training routes like apprenticeships suddenly look very attractive.  In my experience, the risks of losing apprentices are massively reduced when you can:

a) attract the right individuals to apply for your apprenticeship opportunities

b) select the most motivated and resilient apprentices

c) give them a good experience and make them want to stay in Primary Care

d) show them the opportunities for progression

e) make sure they have a job to progress into after their apprenticeship – otherwise, what’s the point?


To explore how apprenticeships can support your business, contact me on or email your local Training Hub.

You can also checkout the new area on HASO’s website for Primary Care




An overview of apprenticeships


Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity to grow your own talent and bring fresh ideas into your practice. Apprenticeships broaden the scope of training and development for existing staff, whilst attracting new people to improve diversity within the workplace and bridging gaps in supply.

Apprenticeships provide:

  • robust, high-quality training
  • development for your existing and new employees
  • entry level 2 to post-graduate level 7 qualifications
  • funded training with financial incentives

Bucks Training Hub (BTH) is working with local Federations and other partners to support practices to recruit Apprentices within Primary Care.

There are a wide range of clinical and non-clinical apprenticeships available, which can be a great way to fill a particular need in your practice. Non-clinical roles can help build skills in areas such as administration, customer service, health care, finance and IT for example.  As well as your practice providing on-the-job training, apprentices will study with a training provider of your choice.

There are over 600 apprenticeship programmes nationally available over a range of professional areas.  These include clinical and non-clinical qualifications such as:

  • Physician Associate Level 7
  • Senior Leader Level 7
  • Trainee Nurse Associate Level 5
  • Operations Manager Level 5
  • Team Leader Level 3
  • Business Administration Level 3
  • Clinical Coder Level 3
  • Healthcare Support Worker Levels 2 and 3
  • Customer Service Levels 2 and 3


To view a list of apprenticeships relevant to Primary care click here

To view all apprenticeships relevant to the health and care sector click here

To view all apprenticeship standards available nationally click here


For help with implementing apprenticeships in your Practice or organisation, speak to Kusham Nijhar: or call 07835 939553

To find out more about HEE Apprenticeships in Primary and Social Care Information Pack click here

Easy four step process


Identify a gap within your surgery and decide on the job role you wish to fill


Identify and contact the training provider for that job role


Advertise and recruit


Provide on-going support to the apprentice

Paying for apprenticeship training

Employers with a pay bill over £3 million each year, pay an apprenticeship levy. Levy paying employers can spend apprenticeship levy funding on apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship levy can only be used to fund eligible training costs.

How to access funding if you aren’t a levy paying employer

Non-levy paying employers can reserve 95% of the apprenticeship cost through government funding. This is called ‘co-investment’. Non-levy employers pay 5% towards the cost of apprenticeship training. The government will pay the rest (95%) up to the funding band maximum. The 95% funding is paid by the Government straight to the provider. The 5% employer contribution is paid to the provider by the employer.

Apprenticeships can also be funded via levy transfers; this is when a levy paying employer agrees to fund the course fees for an apprentice who is employed by a different employer.

How do I pay for apprenticeship training?

Other financial support

Some apprenticeships, such as Nursing Associate & Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship, are supported by funding grants from HEE. Additionally the Nursing Associate and Nursing Associate Apprentice are ARRS (Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme) roles, which means their whole salary can be reimbursed, if employed by the PCN.

Please contact Bucks Training Hub for further advice and information.

Nursing Associate Apprenticeship- Become a vital part of the wider nursing team

What is a Nursing Associate?

A Nursing Associate is a new support role in England, registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), that bridges the gap between Healthcare Support Workers and Registered Nurses to deliver hands-on, person-centred care as part of the nursing team. Nursing Associates work independently under the direct and indirect supervision of the Registered Nurse.

As a Nursing Associate Apprentice you ‘learn whilst you earn’ and are paid a salary by your employer as you complete your training in the workplace. It is a two year programme with an Approved Education Institution (AEI), completing a Nursing Associate Foundation Degree (Level 5).

To find out more:

Contact to find out more, or for information on applying.


Useful Links

Buckinghamshire New University – Nursing Associate

Degree Apprenticeships – Learn more here – UCAS