Skills for Health bridging programme


The bridging programme, developed by Skills for Health, offers an alternative route into university for motivated and capable health and social care workers in England. It can be taken by learners who are undertaking (or who have already achieved) a relevant level three qualification, and who hold the necessary maths and English qualifications.

Successful completion of the programme gives healthcare assistants (HCAs) and other workers a national qualification: a qualifications and credit framework (QCF) level three certificate in bridging skills for higher education. But it's more than a qualification. It is designed to help learners to develop the study skills they need to progress and succeed in nursing and other health professional education programmes at higher education (HE) institutes in England.

Why has it been developed?

The Cavendish review made several recommendations about the training and development of HCAs, to bring more consistency to standards of care. Some of the recommendations specifically influenced the development of the bridging programme:

  • 'Good hospitals and care homes are now unable to promote some of their best assistants into nursing. This is a waste of talent which must be overcome by urgently developing new bridging programmes.'
  • 'Health Education England and the Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) should develop new bridging programmes into pre-registration nursing and other health degrees from the support staff workforce in health and social care.'
Cavendish review: recommendation seven

Can it be delivered alongside apprenticeships?

The bridging programme integrates study skills learning and assessment into vocational learning programmes offered at level three, inside and outside of apprenticeships. People who have already completed their relevant level three qualification or apprenticeship may also wish to follow the bridging programme to help them gain entry to HE.

What can employers do to support and drive a bridging programme partnership?

If you employ health or social care worker apprentices or people who have achieved a relevant qualification inside or outside of an apprenticeship, they may be eligible for entry to the bridging programme. Contact your HE and further education partners to find out if they are planning to offer the bridging programme.

Your LETB should also be able to help you with information about who is offering or planning to offer the bridging programme locally. Find out how to contact your LETB.

Find out more

You can find more information about the bridging programme on the Skills for Health website.

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