SQA qualification key to new pharmacy trainee scheme

7 March 2022

An apprenticeship model which will see up to 150 trainee pharmacy technicians work towards an SQA qualification whilst gaining practical work experience, has been announced by NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

The SQA Diploma in Pharmacy Services at SCQF Level 7 will equip trainees with skills that are in increasing demand across all three health and social care sectors, including in GP practices across Scotland.

The first cohort of learners on the two-year National Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician scheme are due to begin their studies this month.

On completing the Diploma, the trainees will gain an internationally recognised qualification which guarantees that they have the knowledge and understanding required to undertake this vital role successfully.

The Diploma is also recognised by industry, as Sue Pope, Head of Science, Mathematics, and Core Skills at SQA explains: “SQA’s innovative Diploma in Pharmacy Services enables Trainee Pharmacy Technicians to undertake a recognised qualification while gaining the relevant work experience needed to meet the General Pharmaceutical Council’s requirements for registration. By bringing together blended learning and remote delivery, the Diploma will maximise participation from across Scotland, and help to grow the pharmacy services workforce.”

In addition to the new Trainee Pharmacy Scheme, an existing Technical Apprenticeship (TA) in Pharmacy Services will be fully maximised. The apprentices will work towards the Diploma, whilst undertaking on the job training.

These developments in pharmacy technician education and training have been welcomed by Professor Anne Watson, NES Postgraduate Pharmacy Dean, who adds: “I am absolutely delighted that this national scheme has been supported, to establish a much-needed pipeline of pharmacy technicians across Scotland. Having the appropriate numbers and qualifications of the NHS Workforce will be crucial in supporting developments for the pharmacy profession and the NHS Scotland Recovery plan.”

Learn more about our Diploma Pharmacy Services at SCQF level 7.

Modern Apprenticeships at SQA

SQA qualifications form a key element of most apprenticeship schemes in Scotland.

Every year, Modern Apprentices across the country are achieving a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ), whilst earning a wage and gaining on-the-job experience.

To the workplaces that they join, these apprentices are bringing fresh ideas and skills.

Highlighting the many benefits of apprenticeships – to individuals, employers and society - is the aim of this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

As a large public sector employer, SQA has for many years invested in its own Modern Apprenticeship programmes.

Dawnne Mahmoud, Director of People at SQA, says of recruiting apprentices into the organisation: “Whilst at SQA, our Modern Apprentices will have real responsibilities and be valued team members. In equipping them with skills and knowledge, we are not only helping them make a significant contribution during their time at SQA, but we are setting them up to thrive in their future career, whatever that may look like.”

For David McAllister, completing his apprenticeship led to him successfully applying for a more permanent role within SQA.

David says that achieving an SVQ allows him to demonstrate that he is ambitious, motivated and eager to learn. On the other aspects of the apprenticeship programme, he is similarly enthusiastic, adding: “The experiences I’ve had throughout the SQA apprenticeship have been great. The support I’ve received whilst working at SQA has been excellent. For me, the biggest success of the programme is the responsibility you are given to carry out work independently, which makes you feel trusted within the organisation.”

Lynn Bain, an SQA Team Leader, says that supporting and empowering Modern Apprentices is key to helping them thrive in the role.

Lynn continues: “The Modern Apprentices who have worked within our team over the past couple of years have brought fresh ideas, which have challenged existing processes. It has been great to see them blossom and grow in confidence month on month. It is fantastic that some of them have gone on to secure permanent roles within SQA.”

Find information on Modern Apprenticeships at SQA and Scottish Apprenticeship Week.