Apprenticeships for support workers: your questions answered

What is an apprentice?

  • Apprentices are employees who ‘earn while they learn’. Apprentices combine on-the-job training and experience with off-the-job learning.

    Apprentices can be new employees or existing employees aged 16 years and above. Some apprenticeships include a formal qualification and all learning is related to the skills, knowledge and practical experience required for the job. Apprentices are normally employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week, including training time away from the workplace. If an apprentice’s personal circumstances or if the nature of employment in a given sector make it impossible to work these hours, then an absolute minimum of 16 hours a week must be worked.

    Unfortunately not all Countries across the UK have the same approach to apprenticeships as a way to learn and develop in an existing role. With the exception of the Level 4 Therapy Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship in Wales, apprenticeships relevant to the physiotherapy workforce tend to be England only.

Which apprenticeships are suitable for me?

Will I automatically progress to a higher paid role on completion?

  • No, your employer does not have to offer you a new role.

    However, contractually you may be employed at a lower band or equivalent for the duration of an apprenticeship with the agreement that you will move to a higher band or equivalent on completion of the apprenticeship. This interim role might be called a ‘development role’.

What will my terms and conditions of employment be while working as an apprentice?

  • There are no mandated requirements yet other than to pay the minimum wage. If you are already working in a support worker role before undertaking an apprenticeship we expect that your terms and conditions of employment should remain the same for the duration of your apprenticeship.

    If following completion of your apprenticeship there is no opportunity at that time to progress into a different role (should you wish to), we expect that you would remain in your previous role and that your existing terms and conditions will be unaffected.

Can I use the apprenticeship route to become a registered Physiotherapist?

  • Yes. In England, in theory you can progress right through from the level 2 health care support worker apprenticeship to the level 6 Physiotherapy degree apprenticeship and beyond to a Masters degree level 7 apprenticeship.

    Completion of a level 6 apprenticeship and associated achievement of a BSc Honours degree in Physiotherapy means you are eligible to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and practice as a Physiotherapist and apply to join the CSP for Chartered Physiotherapist status. Whether the particular apprenticeship you have undertaken at level 4/5 supports full entry requirements for a Physiotherapy degree will depend on the entry requirements of the University you wish to attend.

    You will need to check with individual Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) if they will accept your level 4 or 5 qualification as part of their entry criteria.

    If your level 5 qualification does not meet entry requirements (perhaps because it is not in an area considered relevant to Physiotherapy) you may be advised to complete an access to Physiotherapy course, BTEC or A level courses.

I already have a first degree and wish to become a registered Physiotherapist

  • You still need to meet entry requirements for pre-registration Physiotherapy training.

    You will need to check with individual HEIs whether they will accept your degree. You may need to complete a relevant access to Physiotherapy course or other relevant qualification before proceeding to a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship depending on the advice from an HEI.

Is an apprenticeship right for me?

  • You should not underestimate the amount of time and effort that studying for a qualification via an apprenticeship route takes, particularly at levels 4, 5, 6 and 7.

    In England you will be granted a minimum of 20% of your working hours as study leave. For arrangements in Wales please see page 24 of this document

    You will need to commit considerable additional hours of your personal time to studying. You should seek guidance from individual education providers regarding the exact expectation.

    However, if you are ambitious, committed, and have the ability and time, an apprenticeship is a great way to ‘earn while you learn’ in order to progress your personal development and career.


I’m very interested in pursuing an apprenticeship. What should I do now?

Start by having a discussion with your line manager explaining how you believe undertaking an apprenticeship will support you to bring:

  • additional skills to the service
  • benefits to patients
  • benefits to your service
  • Seek their approval and support to undertake an apprenticeship.

    If your employer has an apprenticeship lead, a learning and development team or a practice development team, you should contact them to discuss your requirements. They will advise you on which apprenticeships they can procure and from which education providers or HEIs.

    Employers may also offer new jobs out to advert as an apprenticeship. In this case there would be a competitive recruitment process and roles would be advertised on NHS jobs

    For apprenticeships linked to professional statutory registration, you should find out from individual HEIs if your qualifications meet entry criteria or whether you need to consider undertaking an access to Physiotherapy course or other relevant qualifications.

    In England you can search for apprenticeship providers in your area at Health Apprenticeship Standards Online search for a course then search for a local provider.

    In Wales you can search for a centre here

    If you are a CSP member you can access all our professional information and CPD resources by logging in to the CSP website  including video guidance on how to make a case for your CPD




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