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In a bid to make clinical careers accessible for more people and help combat recruitment struggles, the NHS has announced new degree-level apprenticeships in physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

The first apprenticeships are due to be launched in April 2019, offering an alternative route to gaining a professional qualification; the new apprentices are expected to start their course in autumn 2019.

These new apprenticeships aim to tackle the recruitment and retention issues that the NHS currently faces.

Lucy Hunte, National Programme Manager at Health Education England, told the Guardian: “Parents, pupils and teachers often tell me they didn’t realise that the NHS offered apprenticeships; and it’s still perceived that those we do offer are only in trades.”

The NHS has over 300 different job roles, whereby 120 have an apprenticeship route, offering a wide range of options for candidates.

“The apprenticeships we offer are growing all the time – horticulture, child care and hospitality – but the biggest change has been in clinical roles,” added Lucy.

In April 2017, the UK Government set a new target whereby the NHS and other public sector employers with over 250 employees are predicted to have at least 2.3 percent of their workforce starting an apprenticeship each year at minimum.

Aislinn O’Hara, Manager for Education, Learning and Organisational Development at Leeds NHS Trust, commented: “We have worked hard to make working in the NHS accessible to as many people as possible.

“In the past, people may have seen apprenticeships only for those with low skills and no qualifications. Some of those perceptions have stayed in people’s minds, but apprenticeships can be for everybody – the majority here are between 24 to 35 and our oldest is 63.”

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