Healthcare Science (HCS) departments strive to enable safe, effective and timely patient care. To achieve this, they need to retain existing workforce while continuously upskilling both in technical and leadership domains. Moreover, new recruits need to be trained at highest possible standards while keeping a sustainable entry route to fulfil growing needs. The Government’s initiative in Apprenticeships is a best fit in helping organisations achieve their goals.
This section helps all stakeholders understand, build and deliver Healthcare Science apprenticeship programmes. Stakeholders include, but not limited to, Healthcare Science Managers, Apprenticeship Leads, Training & Development Managers, HR Directors, and Apprenticeship Education & Training Providers. It does so through up-to-date information about HCS Apprenticeships in England, available standards, progression pathways, delivery providers, by answering frequently asked questions and much more. It also supports parents, teachers and career advisors in guiding students to make the right career choices.
Overview of Apprenticeships
An apprenticeship is a job with training. It enables apprentices to develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to perform effectively in a particular occupation. Apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months and include 20% structured off-the-job training before the end-point assessment (EPA) takes place, to develop competence in an occupation. The EPA takes place when apprentices have completed their on-programme training and is mandatory. The EPAs are undertaken by an independent assessment organisation, which must be on the Register of Apprentice Assessment Organisations.
Apprenticeships can play a huge contribution to create the skilled and aspirational Healthcare Science workforce that our NHS requires. Apprenticeships are open to new recruits as well as existing staff. They provide new skills & knowledge hence offer opportunities for re-skilling and up-skilling the existing workforce as they move into new roles and therefore supports in career progression.
An apprentice can leave and join new organisations and can continue their program subject to support from the new employer. The new employer would need a prior discussion with their approved training provider to support the apprentice to continue where they left with the previous provider and employer.
There is no financial implication on employees as per general market trend. Employers pay to training providers on monthly basis, therefore payment to a training provider stops as soon as an employee leaves the organisation.
Workplace Training + Academic Program = Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship Levy Funds
The government introduced the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. The purpose of which is to fund an increase in the number and quality of apprenticeships. It applies to all employers in both the private and public sectors and is payable on annual pay bills of more than £3 million. Employers with an annual pay bill of less than £3 million do not pay the levy. However, they continue to have access to government funding to support apprenticeships. Less than 3% of UK employers are classed as large employers, hence paying the apprenticeship levy.
The levy is charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill. Levy payments are collected monthly by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through Pay as You Earn (PAYE), payable alongside tax and National Insurance. Employers pay bills are based on total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions (NICs). The money is collected by HMRC. Individual employers’ funding for apprenticeship training in England is made available to them via a Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account. Employers use this account to pay for training for apprentices.
Employers can use their funding (up to a cap which depends upon the standard that is being trained against) to cover the cost of an apprentice’s training, assessment and certification. However, they cannot use levy funds to cover all the costs associated with taking on an apprentice. For example, overheads, supervision costs and apprentices’ wages will not be funded by the levy. Employers can spend their levy funds on training their apprentice against an approved standard. This includes either existing staff or new recruits as long as the training meets an approved standard and the individual meets the apprentice eligibility criteria.
Apprenticeship Standards outline the skills, knowledge and behaviours (KSBs) required to carry out a certain job role. All apprentices must take an independent assessment at the end of their training to demonstrate the KSBs set out in the occupational standard.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is an employer led crown Non-Departmental Public Body to oversee the development, approval and publication of apprenticeship standards and assessment plans. The Institute works with employer groups called trailblazers to develop apprenticeship standards and assessment plans, as well as, makes recommendations on funding bands to the Department for Education for each apprenticeship standard. The Institute has a role overseeing External Quality Assurance (EQA) across all EQA providers to ensure quality, consistency and credibility. The Academy for Healthcare Science is the EQA provider for Healthcare Science.
Apprenticeship Standards have equivalence to academic qualifications as elaborated below (ref):
Intermediate Apprenticeship - Level 2 (L2) => GCSE (5 GCSE passes)
Advance Apprenticeship - Level 3 (L3) => A-Levels (2 A levels passes)
Higher Apprenticeship - Level 4 and above (L4, L5, L6, L7) =>
Level (L4) - equivalent to an HNC, a foundation degree, or the first year of an undergraduate degree
Level 5 (L5) & above - equivalent to a full degree
Degree Apprenticeship - Level 5 to Level 7 =>
Level 5 (L5) and Level 6 (L6) - equivalent to a full bachelor’s degree
Level 7 (L7) - equivalent to a master's degree
Apprenticeship Standards for
Healthcare Science Departments
There are 100s of Apprenticeship Standards available covering a large number of occupational profiles of the Healthcare sector. These range from frontline clinical, technical, customer support to admin, team leadership, governance, and senior leadership. The table below covers the most relevant Standards for Healthcare Science departments.
Technical, Scientific & Clinical
Progression Pathways through HCS Standards
There are currently four approved Healthcare Science Apprenticeship Standards. These four Standards cover a wide range of Healthcare Science specialisms. The diplomas of HCS Level 2 and Level 4 contains 100+ modules each to mix-and-match for any specialism of HCS. Further details and a combination of modules for a select range of specialisms is available here.
The chart below shows routine tasks for apprentices at HCS Assistant, HCS Associate, HCS Practitioner and Clinical Scientist level; as well as the typical duration periods and salary bands. A complete document on National profiles for Healthcare Science job roles is available here.
The arrows indicate successful career progression, (subject to further apprenticeship availability, job vacancy and employer requirement set by each employer). A complete list of Healthcare Science departments / specialisms is available here.
The chart below offers an example of career progression of a HCS apprentice. The salary bands are typical that may change slightly from employer to employer based on local structure, job description, and other factors. This is a fantastic career progression pathway offered by Healthcare Science apprenticeships. This also offers an amazing staff retention for employers.
HCS Apprenticeship Training Providers
The Register of Approved Training Providers (RATP) contains Training Providers (TP) that have been through an application process with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This application process considers due diligence, capability, quality and financial health to assess a training provider's ability to deliver high-quality apprenticeship training.
A National Procurement of training providers for Healthcare Science apprenticeships is live at the moment. The procurement is being carried out by Salisbury Managed Procurement Services (SMPS) and supported by Health Education England (HEE). HEE is supporting the expansion, uptake and quality of the Healthcare Science Apprenticeships. The aim of the national procurement is to create a transparent and accessible framework of training providers which outlines the specialisms that they currently offer, and intend to offer in the future.
Outcome of the procurement is expected in May 2022 and will be shared here.
Organisations wishing to use the successful providers should, in the first instance, contact SPMS. Organisations already using Salisbury’s services will not need to complete a separate Access Agreement. Salisbury will then provide the Provider(s)’ Bid Response (any or all can be requested) for employers to review prior to completing a Contract Call-Off.
The minimum requirement for a Level 2 applicant is to be over 16 years old, and show they have the ability to complete the programme. However, employers can set own entry criteria. The table below shows a common entry criteria set by Healthcare Science employers for Level 2, Level 4 and Level 6 of HCS Apprenticeship Standards. A successful candidate would tick at least two boxes where a green tick exists under respective apprenticeship level (shown in columns).
Note: This is a guide criteria checklist, based on a limited employer engagament. It can vary to fulfil local needs.
HCS Curriculum & Modules
The HCS Diplomas (L2 and L4) are made up of modules covering all HCS specialisms and are divided into Group A and Group B. Group A is a set of compulsory modules whereas Group B is a large set of optional units. Each specialism/department can choose optional units from Group B to fulfil local learning needs, and should be a minimum of 26 credits for L2 and 63 credits for L4 qualification. Training Providers (TP) offer a combination of modules from Group B based on their expertise e.g., Clinical Engineering, Decontamination Sciences, etc. The complete Healthcare Science Level 2 diploma document is available here and the Level 4 diploma is available here.
Pearson BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Healthcare Science
Minimum number of credits that must be achieved: 40
Number of mandatory credits that must be achieved: 14
Number of optional credits that must be achieved: 26
Group A: Mandatory Units
Healthcare Science Services
Employee Rights, Responsibilities and Personal Development in Healthcare Science
Working in Partnership in Healthcare Science
Investigating, Treating and Managing Human Disease and Disorder
Working Safely in the Healthcare Science Environment
Pearson BTEC Level 4 Diploma in Healthcare Science
Minimum number of credits that must be achieved: 100
Number of mandatory credits that must be achieved: 37
Number of optional credits that must be achieved: 63
Group A: Mandatory Units
Skills for Lifelong Learning
Professional Practice and Person-centred Care
Legal and Ethical Context of Practice
Health, Safety and Security in the Healthcare Science Environment
Technical Scientific Services
Effective Communication in Healthcare
Audit, Research, Development and Innovation
Leadership and Teamwork
Teaching, Learning and Assessing Practical Skills
Continuing Personal and Professional Development
Check out selected modules from Group B options for both Level 2 and Level 4 diplomas for the following HCS Specialisms (pdf format files open in new windows):
HCS Level 6 - Degree Level Curriculum
The National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) provides curriculum of various specialisms for the Level 6 (degree level) apprenticeship Standard. Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) can only access apprenticeship funding through courses directly accredited by the NSHCS. Currently available courses are mentioned here.
Healthcare Science Job Descriptions
Job Descriptions (JDs) of various Healthcare Science specialisms are made available in folders below. These are taken from various advertised job openings in the past. These are deemed to act as a reference for appointing managers; to help formulate a new JD. These are made available "as downloaded" from adverting websites (usually www.jobs.nhs.uk) and carry no responsibility.
Documents and Resources
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Here is a dedicated page on Healthcare Science career and training options for students, parents, teachers and career advisors. Check out & share (if possible). Thanks.