Apprenticeships – coming soon

by Alison Myles

Healthcare Finance technical, 25 March 2019

HFMA director of education Alison Myles looks at the association’s plans to develop an apprenticeship in accountancy

By the beginning of 2020, NHS bodies should be able to enrol staff on HFMA apprenticeships in accountancy funded through their apprenticeship levy, under plans currently being pursued by the HFMA Academy.

There is significant interest from NHS bodies in being able to use their apprenticeship levy funds, from their own digital accounts, to deliver finance training to existing finance staff, clinicians and others.

However, currently HFMA online qualifications – including the advanced (level 7) and intermediate (level 4) diplomas in healthcare business and finance – cannot be studied as part of an apprenticeship, which means that NHS bodies cannot draw on levy funding for these qualifications.

If this remains unused, NHS bodies could lose access to these funds at a time when staff development is so crucial to meeting the aspirations of the NHS long-term plan and to improving recruitment and retention across the health and care service.

There are two reasons for the current disconnect. First, the HFMA is not a training provider. And on top of this, ‘healthcare business and finance’ is not itself an occupation and so has no directly associated apprenticeship standard that sets out what the apprentice will to do and the skills needed to carry out their role.

The association is addressing both these issues. The HFMA Academy has applied to become a main training provider for apprenticeships. This means it would take the lead role in delivering training rather than simply being a subcontractor.

It has also looked to map the existing component parts of its existing qualifications to existing apprenticeship standards.

The initial focus has been on the level 4 accountancy technician standard. Delivery of an HFMA accountancy apprenticeship at this level would see the association work with a delivery partner. The technical accounting knowledge needed as part of the apprenticeship would be provided by following the syllabus of an existing level 4 qualification such as those provided by AAT, ACCA or CIMA.

In particular, the HFMA has had detailed discussions with ACCA.

Building the apprenticeship into something much more directly suited to the NHS, the HFMA will provide the specific health service context for the learning. The existing core module within the HFMA’s intermediate diploma – How finance works within the NHS – would be at the heart of this. But students would also study other HFMA components to understand specific details around NHS governance and costing and to learn about some of the different tools available to support decision making.

E-learning modules would also be used to provide learning in specific areas online.

The creation of new apprenticeship opportunities is a detailed and slow process. However, the association is working hard to meet members’ demands in this area.

We should hear back about the association’s application to become a training provider during April. And it is hoped that an HFMA level 4 accountancy apprenticeship could be available by the start of 2020.

The association is not stopping here. It is also looking at how its existing qualifications map to other apprenticeship standards, including the level 7 accountancy apprenticeship and those for operations manager (level 5), business administrator (level 3) and senior leader (level 7). It is also examining the potential for human resources and procurement apprenticeships in the longer term.

We will keep members and organisations updated about progress with HFMA apprenticeships, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at