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Apprenticeship policy in the UK is changing and apprenticeships are becoming more common in healthcare. This page has information about maternity apprenticeships and links to other resources.

An Apprenticeship is a work based training programme. It combines on the job training with a national recognised qualification. Tuition fees are paid by the employer or Government funding and apprentices are paid a salary for their employment.

How are apprenticeships changing?

The government wants to increase the use of apprenticeship training. Large organisations are now paying an apprenticeship levy that the government hopes will fund

3 million new apprenticeships. While all large UK organisations are levied, at the moment the Westminster government’s plans for this apprenticeship fund are more defined.

The government is also encouraging public sector organisations, including NHS organisations, to train more apprentices through the public sector apprentice target

Read about the Westminster government’s apprenticeships policy

Read about what's happening in Wales

Read about what’s happening in Northern Ireland

Read about what’s happening in Scotland.

Apprenticeships and maternity care

Apprenticeships are more varied and lead to more careers than you think. They can be a great way for NHS leaders to grow their own workforce, as well as for individuals wanting a rewarding NHS career than can take them where they want to go.  Not only can maternity support workers become trained through quality apprenticeships, apprenticeships can allow a bridge into midwifery, or even help with training to be a midwife without incurring debt.

Apprenticeships and maternity support care

https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/MSWs_101016_1.pngAre you an MSW or MSW apprentice? Become a member of the RCM!

An apprenticeship is one training route to become a Maternity Support Worker (MSW). The RCM have long championed the need of maternity support staff to have access to appropriate learning and development opportunities, so we welcome quality apprenticeships, which across the UK are rightly becoming a growing feature of the NHS workforce. The NHS already has around 19,820 apprenticeships across 60 different routes, mainly at Apprentice Standards Levels 2, 3 and 4. The Government wants an additional 28,000 apprenticeships in the NHS once the levy is in place and there is a chance that employers will be incentivised to grow their own MSW workforce through training levy-funded apprentices, but non apprenticeship routes are also available.

  • Read a case study of Nicola Spencer, an MSW apprentice from Guy’s and St Thomas in London
  • Read a case study of Denise Amey, a Maternity Support Worker who completed her apprenticeship at Poole Maternity Hospital.

All current apprenticeship frameworks will be replaced by Apprenticeship Standards by 2020, and the RCM contributed to the development of the new MSW Apprenticeship Standard – part of the Senior Healthcare Support Worker Apprenticeship standard outlined here on page 6.

All standards for new apprenticeships relate to a specific role or occupation, and provide a pathway to a career within the sector. Both existing and new apprenticeships are placed into one of 15 funding bands. This will depend on the level and type of apprenticeship.

Read more about MSW careers

Read about MSW apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and midwifery

New apprenticeships are employer led, where employers get together as ‘trailblazers’ who work together to design new apprenticeship standards for occupations within their sectors. While an apprenticeship standard has been developed for, nursing, midwifery has been excluded from these discussions. But watch this space as NHS employers may begin the trailblazer process soon.

Read the RCM advice on becoming a midwife.

Building your workforce from your community

NHS Employers believe there are groups of potential candidates in your community who could help you to address your workforce supply challenges, now and in the future. Do you know who they are? In order to help employers think about recruiting from these groups, on 1 November 2017 they launched a new digital tool to help compare current workforce data with data from your local community.  The aim of the tool is to highlight groups in your community that may be missing from your workforce, and will signpost you to advice on how to better attract, recruit and retain from these groups in order to strengthen your workforce supply. In addition to providing a comparative analysis for age, disability, ethnicity, gender, religion and belief and sexual orientation, the tool also shows the prevalence of wider groups in your local area that are not directly comparable with census data, including carers, care leavers and Armed Forces personnel.

Apprenticeships support from the TUC

Apprenticeships are Union BusinessThe TUC’s Unionlearn helps trade unions to support apprentices in the workplace. The RCM is a proud member of the TUC and we have resources to support union reps, ULRs and other union members to work directly with apprentices, supporting them to complete their apprenticeship and build their careers.


For more information and resources, visit the Unionlearn website