GP practices taking on apprentices will only have to pay 5% towards the costs of training and assessing them instead of 10%, the Government has revealed as part of the budget announcement.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government has released a ‘£695m package to support apprenticeships’.
He added that small businesses – who are exempt from the apprenticeship levy if they have a wage bill of less than £3m a year – will now be asked to pay only 5% of the costs involved in the training and assessment of apprentices.
The Government will cover the remaining 95%.
Data by government agency National Apprenticeship Service found that 80% of companies investing in apprentices report a significant increase in employee retention.
The BMA said that, based on an analysis of NHS Digital data, apprenticeships are becoming more common in General Practice.
As of September 2016, there were 430 apprentices working in general practice. This rose to 1,004 in March 2018.
BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: ‘While there are relatively few apprentices compared with other staff groups working in general practice, the latest figures do show that schemes are becoming more popular.
‘The reduction in the “co-investment rate” announced in yesterday’s budget is welcome as it is likely to have a small but positive impact for those surgeries employing, or considering taking on, apprentices as part of the wider practice team.’
Apprenticeships in general practice
GP practices can offer a series of apprenticeship qualifications, which include business administration, healthcare, team leadership, customer service, IT and communications, according to a booklet by Health Education England (HEE).
Apprenticeships must last at least a year, according to the Government. However, in some cases, apprentices might decide to continue to work with the practice, as in the case of Linda Bennett practice manager at Heath Lane Medical Centre in Chester.
Ms Bennet told HEE that she ‘was confident that they could “train, develop and inspire an apprentice”, so much so that their first recruit, a trainee receptionist, is now their patient services manager’.
Apprentices can be used to train new and existing staff in the practice, to help them with their career progression, according to HEE.
Employers that stand out for the work they do with apprenticeships can also apply for the National Apprenticeship Awards.
As Management in Practice reported earlier this year, the Alvanley Family practice in Stockport won the awards’ Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer category in 2017.
Practice manager Kay Keane said apprenticeships could be a solution for practices struggling with recruitment and retention.