An apprenticeship programme is to target people who may not have considered a career in health care, writes Esther Leach
A NEW apprenticeship scheme has been launched to encourage more people from ethnic minorities to train as nurses.
The idea comes from Bradford Community Health NHS Trust in partnership with Bradford Hospitals Trust, Shipley College and other city organisations anxious to have a nursing workforce that more accurately reflects the ethnic diversity of the community.
It has also been launched at a time when hospitals are urgently looking for more innovative ways of recruiting nursing staff to meet shortages. "The scheme is a paid opportunity for individuals to gain a real insight into nursing whilst gaining an academic qualification needed to begin nurse education, " said Diana Oliver, project manager.
"It is designed to attract those who have not considered nursing as a career. It will address concerns surrounding links between unemployment and ill health and the inequality of access to health services for minority ethnic communities."
Ishtiaq Ahmed, the director of Bradford Racial Equality Council, welcomed the idea saying that under-representation of ethnic minorities in nursing had long been recognised.
"This scheme offers good quality, real jobs in the NHS to many who have not previously considered nursing as a career or the NHS as an employer," he said.
The minimum qualifications needed to start the scheme are four GCSEs grade A to C. Those without these qualifications may take an entry test at Shipley College. The scheme lasts two years and apprentices will receive a training allowance. Apprentices will be registered with Shipley College and will enrol on the BTEC National Certificate or a course that will enhance their existing qualifications. During the scheme, apprentices will work alongside qualified nurses in a variety of placements.
The first apprentices, who will receive Pounds 100 a week, begin with Bradford Community Health in September. The first year will include placements lasting six to eight weeks in hospital, community and departmental settings. Year two will involve three placements of the apprentices' choice.