(Photo: iStock)

The first candidate to land a work placement in a community pharmacy as part of a government scheme called Kickstart started their shift on Monday (Feb 8).

Under the scheme, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The NPA’s partnership with the recruitment company Reed has enabled independent community pharmacies to take part in and make the most of the government initiative.

Balvinder Singh Nijjar, director of Faith Pharmacy in Manchester said: “We applied for the scheme to give somebody a chance so they could see what pharmacy was all about.

“We have a senior member of staff helping her get familiar with the pharmacy. She can observe other staff and how they give advice over the counter and operate the till.

“If she can achieve the Medicine Counter Assistant certificate from the NPA, confidence in a workplace and some knowledge of dispensing it will put her onto a good start to carry on further.”

Nicole Wilson, the Kickstarter said: “I like learning new skills as well as being able to give back (to health services and the community). This is an opportunity for me to learn something new and when I saw this I knew it was something I could get involved with.”

Nicole says she hopes the experience can develop her for a career in a healthcare setting.

“I like the idea of progressing and picking up new skills. I like being part of something that’s constantly evolving rather than staying static. I’m looking forward to doing the NPA course too.”

The 24-year-old spent her first day shadowing the team, making sales, collecting repeat prescriptions and learning about prescription exemptions to support customers with the process.

The first phase of Kickstart applications via the NPA and Reed during November 2020 attracted over 700 placements for community pharmacies which have been approved by DWP.

The second phase, which ran in December, attracted over 600 applications from NPA members, and are currently awaiting approval from DWP. The NPA has recently opened up a third phase.

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