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Unemployed nurses given apprenticeships

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.”

Readers' comments (20)

  • Leave. Seriously. Exodus.

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  • Qualified yet supernumary on an understaffed ward. Explain?

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  • Apprenticeships??????? Are they taking the piss? We are not some spotty 16 year old learning a trade!

    There is a raft of evidence that PROVES that less Nursing posts means less clinical care and higher mortality rates for patients, that is a fact.

    Perhaps these moronic health boards should be held to account legally for putting profits above lives?

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  • what an insult and further money poured down the drain!

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  • I am trying to be positive. It sounds as though there will be more jobs opened up (which is still better than a dole queue). It will put more bodies on the ward, I wouldnt mind being "supernumerary" as I will be an extra staff nurse on a shift (much better than being understaffed).

    I am going to wait and see what they say at the end of the month. As long as I get full time hours on band 5 I am not going to complain. However if the hours are patchy and they try to pay less than band 5...

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  • wow, what an insult to nq nurses in Scotland. These people are not apprentices, they are graduate nurses. They do not need an apprenticeship, they need jobs. Simple as.

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  • The word apprenticeship means that you will be on minimum wage with no unsocial hours pay.

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  • I feel for the NQNs who've been struggling to get jobs, I really do. But they can hold out hope - there will be ones soon. I'm aware of nurses who 'temporarily' cut their hours when returning from injury. Now when there are vacancies on the ward they're not being allowed to increase their hours again as 'they're too expensive' - experience is obviously no longer valued as it costs more so....jobs coming up for the 'cheaper' nurses, so long as you don't mind the lack of experienced nurses that will be there to mentor you.

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  • What a disgrace & insult to students studying for their degree. I'll be on the first plane out of Scotland when I graduate.

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  • In my experience the big problem when starting out is getting your foot in the door. I also adgere to the old adage of 'if you don't use it you'll lose it' so in my opinion if this scheme gives someone a foot in the door and also gives them practical experience then it must be of some value. Whether they call it an "apprenticeship" or whatever is immaterial - it gives us a chance to impress and show prospective employers what we can do.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jan-2011 3:52 pm I have to disagree, as someone else has said, this is an insult to anyone who sacrificed and studied for the degree for three damn years! All this will do will add to the already significant brain drain to Australia/Canada, etc, where they DO have jobs and our skills and quals are respected.

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  • Nurses on the cheap.

    Any newly qualified who takes up this offer is a first class numpty!


    God almighty. Why are nurses in the UK treated so badly by employers and politicians!? Just what have we done?

    Has any politician got the balls to come on here and tell us!?

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  • why do newly qualified nurses need apprenticeships. once they qualify are they still not adults and already fully qualified professionals who need job security? have they not had a sufficient apprenticeship during their several years training? what on earth is wrong with the authorities who make all these rules?

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  • from above: should have read fully qualified, fully autonomous professionals

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  • 3.52pm

    That's exactly the mentality this govt is looking for. And exactly the mentality that see's nursing as a profession going down the pan.

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  • I am just qualified and this scheme applies to me- the University have let us know that if we dont find a job,this could be an option for us. I have many concerns over this:-does this mean that we will be paid less "cos we are aprentices and will we suddenly find ourselves work the difficult shifts 'cos we are cheaper,are there going to be mentors,how will this work when wards are understaffed,will I be a "numpty" for taking this?
    I am lucky 'cos I have other options in terms of jobs but some of my fellow graduates dont have that option. Its not ideal but there are very few jobs in Scotland -have been applying in England and seriously looking at Wales.
    To fill u in on some background here- normally students would have had the option of "going on the bank" however for many years in Scotland,this has been closed. Certainly in my locality, one girl had to wait 2 years to get on the bank- the few vacancies that exist ask for experience. How can u get nursing experience?
    Care homes-many are now asking for 6mths post registration experience
    So in one respect, an aprenticeship for 12 mths is better than nothing. However there is no job guarantee at the end of the process. The more I think about this,the more it sounds like the old "Young persons training scheme" - the revolving door of new recruits

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  • im not happy about this scheme as i feel that ive already done my long and hard apprenticeship, but ive been qualified a year now alongside the majority of my graduating class. i feel im being de skilled so id probably welcome the oppurtunity to get back in there if only for a year , my question is though where will we go from there .

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  • I truly feel for the new grads. I'm a RN with a BN and Masters and 26 years experience. I moved here with my husband and I cannot find a job in Aberdeen Scotland. I wish you all the very best. It was recommended to me to become a senior carer as an alternative to practicing as an RN. Now how depressing is that????

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  • These are the updated details of the OYJG scheme, if they honour it, I am sure it is better than being unemployed or loosing valuable nursing skills.

    Meeting the One Year Job Guarantee Commitment
    for Newly Registered Nurses and Midwives in Scotland

    The One Year Job Guarantee Scheme

    Under the Scottish Government’s One Year Job Guarantee (OYJG) scheme
    we have been actively engaging with Higher Education institutions, NHS
    Boards, the Armed Services and Independent Sector employers to maximise
    job opportunities for newly-registered nurses and midwives. However, as
    a direct result of the current economic downturn and funding constraint
    at a UK level, Scotland is facing a significant downturn in employment
    opportunities for new nursing and midwifery graduates and this too has
    limited the number of opportunities available through the existing OYJG
    scheme. Despite this, the Scottish Government remains committed to
    providing an offer of employment to all newly registered nurses and
    midwives from Scottish Higher Education Institutions if they have not
    been able to find a post through their own endeavours. Accepting that
    existing initiatives may not create sufficient opportunities, the
    Scottish Government have asked NHS Education for Scotland (NES) to
    support NHS Boards in implementing a nationally coordinated
    ‘internship’ programme.

    A National Internship Model

    Building on the existing OYJG commitment, the model will involve
    interns being hosted in territorial NHS Boards across NHSScotland. The
    intern position will involve the core offer of a one year, fixed-term,
    part-time (22.5hrs), employment opportunity as a staff nurse/midwife in
    clinical practice, linked to rotational placements and completion of
    Flying Start NHS®.

    Internships are not ‘apprenticeships’ or training posts, and
    interns will be fully registered professionals accountable and
    responsible for their practice in the same way as other new staff.

    Timescales
    NES and Scottish Government Health Directorates (SGHD) are currently
    working closely with employers to establish the first of these
    internships and these will be offered to those newly registered nurses
    and midwives who are registered on the OYJG scheme. It is intended to
    use the first of these to support those nurses and midwives still
    outstanding from the 09/10 OYJG applications and then to make the next
    internship opportunities available to those who have applied from 01
    September 2010.

    ? For those who applied for the OYJG scheme before Sept 2010 the
    deadline for applications is 31 March 2011.
    ? For those who applied for the OYJG scheme after Sept 2010 the
    deadline for applications is 30 June 2011.

    We will be contacting you again in the coming weeks with further
    information regarding the application process.

    Eligibility
    The OYJG scheme has been established to support those who have been
    unable to gain employment, but we recognise that many newly registered
    applicants may, in the interim, have been able to access some limited
    employment in temporary, part-time or ‘Bank’ employment. As a
    consequence, some applicants may no longer be entitled to a full
    internship offer, but we will seek to provide a proportionate offer
    based on an average of the number of hours you have worked.

    As you have already applied to the OYJG scheme, or are in the process
    of applying, you will automatically be included in this initiative if
    you continue to meet the application criteria and you will be contacted
    within the next few weeks by NES to update your details and to inform
    you how to progress with the internship application process. New,
    supplementary, guidance will also be issued on the NES and Scottish
    Government websites.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Will internships be available in all NHS Boards and how will applicants
    be offered placements?

    As with the existing OYJG scheme, there is no guarantee of an offer of
    a local internship opportunity. However, NES are working closely with
    Professional Leads in NHS Boards to support the spread of opportunities
    across Scotland. Not all such opportunities will be available
    immediately, but we expect to be able to create sufficient places to
    meet our commitment through the OYJG scheme.

    Working with ‘groups’ of applicants, starting with those who have
    been registered on the scheme for the longest time, NES will attempt to
    match applicants with the list of placement opportunities provided by
    Boards.

    Following initial matching and interview, individual applicants will be
    selected by NHS Boards. If not successful in gaining an intern position
    at that stage, they will be offered further opportunities through
    re-matching. If a firm offer of an Intern post is made by an NHS Board,
    this will be seen to meet the OYJG commitment. If an individual
    rejects that first offer, no further offers will be made.

    I have managed to get some limited part-time work since applying for
    the OYJG - am I still eligible for the internship offer?

    The OYJG scheme has been established to support those who have been
    unable to gain employment, but we will seek to provide a proportionate
    offer based on an average of the number of hours you have worked. To do
    this we will contact you in the coming weeks to ask you for information
    about any employment you’ve had and the average hours you’ve worked
    since you registered. You must answer these questions carefully and
    ensure that the information is correct otherwise it may invalidate your
    application.

    Must I join, and can I leave, the scheme?

    The scheme is not compulsory and newly registered nurses and midwives
    are still encouraged to seek employment through their own means.
    However, if an offer of an internship position is made and then declined
    by the applicant, then the OYJG offer will be seen to have been
    completed.

    If an intern subsequently finds alternative employment then they may
    leave the scheme at any time, but the OYJG offer will be seen to have
    been completed and no future offers will be made under the scheme.

    What happens after I complete the scheme?

    NHS Boards cannot prioritise employment of post-internship staff over
    other applicants as this would be against employment
    legislation/partnership agreements. However, the clinical experience
    gained and the completion of Flying Start NHS® should allow interns to
    develop their skills and competence and increase their likelihood of
    post-internship employment.

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  • What an insult, though as a student my cohort was offered voluntary posts to gain experience...hello 3 years training, is that not experience?

    3 years on and after a few short term contracts, I am out of work and facing a dim future as a nurse. My skills are decreasing daily and I have lost total confidence in the profession I was so enthusiastic to join; what a fool was I!

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