The group behind plans for a five-year pharmacy apprenticeship scheme have put them on hold for a second time, citing the need ‘to dispel misconceptions’ in the sector. 

In an email circulated in December, the employer group said it was pausing developing the proposals to engage with the pharmacy sector and address the misconceptions ‘about degree apprenticeships and their relationship to regulated occupations’.

The chairs of the group, which includes representatives for Boots UK, Superdrug, Lloyds Pharmacy and Well, said: ‘Having discussed with the development group, we feel that the group’s focus should be on awareness raising with the pharmacy sector in order to dispel further misconceptions about degree apprenticeships.’

They added that they would be contacting the professional bodies that have taken an ‘avid interest’ in the scheme and doing ‘further work around communications’.

‘Shelved for second time’

A formal proposal for the scheme, which would see prospective pharmacists train on the job rather than through the traditional university-led model, was first published in April by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

However, it was met with controversy and in May the Institute announced that it would pause the proposal until representatives from a wider range of pharmacy sectors had been brought into the group developing it.

In October, the arms-length training body Skills for Health, which is supporting the apprenticeship’s development, confirmed a second proposal was in the pipeline.

At the time, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society warned that the scheme posed ‘serious risks’ if appropriate funding was not secured to support its introduction.

Skills for Health was contacted for comment but the body said it was unable to provide any further information on the delay to the proposals at this time.