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The Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education (IFATE) has decided to stall the five-year pharmacist apprenticeship scheme proposal indefinitely.

Institute’s board on Wednesday confirmed that the proposal is not ready to go through development at this time, citing the need for further engagement with stakeholders.

“Our role is to support employers to develop apprenticeships they consider are necessary to address skills gaps in our workforce. The Institute ensures any apprenticeship that is developed is high-quality delivering the skills employers need while ensuring the apprenticeship can thrive in their chosen career,” an Institute spokesperson told Pharmacy Business.

“At this point the Board has acknowledged that this is a distinct occupation but recommended that the membership of the group developing the proposal should be expanded to include professionals from a wider range of pharmacy sectors such as military, prisons and higher education institutions and further engagement should take place with sector stakeholders during the development of the proposal.”

A meeting has been scheduled for July to discuss the proposal’s future.

Reacting to the news, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) expressed their happiness and said the need to listen to the profession has been recognised.

“It is important to ensure that all pharmacy sectors have a voice. We will continue to work without members to make sure that their views and concerns are heard,” said Gail Fleming, RPS Director for Education and Professional Development.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said the proposal had caused significant concern across the sector.

Paul Day, Director of PDA said: “If the employer group intends to try again to progress their plans, we believe they should first identify themselves and approach their proposal with the level of transparency which the profession deserves. Simply adding more anonymous members to an existing anonymous group is not going to improve the credibility of the proposal or the process.”

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said they would continue to engage with the IFATE and the group of employers in order to give preliminary and regulatory advice.

“As we have previously confirmed any pharmacists degree apprenticeship must include an MPharm degree accredited by us and pre-registration training. In addition, all apprenticeship trainees would have to pass our registration assessment before registration as a pharmacist,” a GPhC spokesperson told Pharmacy Business.

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