The Scottish government is introducing a paid apprenticeship scheme for newly qualified nurses in response to the “very real challenges” faced by those trying to find jobs, Nursing Times has learnt.
The scheme will see some 350 newly qualified nurses who have been unable to find jobs at Agenda for Change band 5 undertake a year long apprenticeship.
A spokeswoman for NHS Education for Scotland said the scheme was in response to a shortage of nursing posts due to funding restrictions.
She told Nursing Times: “We recognise that the current financial context has presented very real challenges for newly registered nursing and midwifery staff in identifying job opportunities and it has, equally, limited the type of opportunities, which have previously been available for offer under the one year guarantee scheme.”
The apprenticeships - which will be supernumerary and funded by the Scottish government - are to be offered in place of the one year job guarantee for newly qualified nurses and midwives.
The proposals are being finalised by government officials and groups, including health boards, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, and are due to be published at the end of the month. Guidelines will prevent boards from using apprentices as cheap labour in place of other posts.
The draft document states: “Interns will not be trainees, but will be fully registered nurses and midwives with the same standard skills and competencies as other newly registered staff.”
RCN Scotland associate director of learning and development Ellen Hudson said newly qualified nurses had been particularly hit by cuts in posts.
“As nursing makes up 40% of the NHS workforce, many health boards are looking at cutting nurses’ wage bill,” she said. “The way they are doing this is around posts that would have gone to newly qualified nurses.”