Apprenticeships key to new online service for Well Pharmacy

A partnership between Stoke on Trent College and Well Pharmacy has seen 18 apprenticeships created as part of the company’s expansion and the launch of its online pharmacy.

Well Pharmacy is the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK and its warehousing and distribution headquarters in Meir Park has over 340 employees. Apprentices at the site include five pharmacy technician apprentices, two supply chain apprentices and 11 warehousing and storage apprentices.

The ongoing expansion comes after more than 33,000 customers signed up to the company’s new online NHS prescription service. The app takes the hassle out of prescriptions, allowing customers to order their medication straight to their door, for free. The new apprenticeships are key to the new service, ensuring that existing staff are qualified to a high level.

Talking about the role of apprenticeships in the company’s ongoing expansion, Katy Chesters, Business Development Associate at Stoke on Trent College, explains:

“Well Pharmacy is one of several large companies who are working with us to ensure the funds that have been set aside under their apprenticeship levy payments will be used to meet their business needs.

We are the only pharmacy apprenticeship provider in the area where apprentices can come into college for their off-the-job training, which is delivered by experienced and qualified pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. They visit the apprentices in the workplace to set them tasks and assess their progress against the learning required for the qualification. We also have science lecturers who can deliver additional elements of the programme for individuals who progress onto level 3.

We have also worked with the learning and development team at Well Pharmacy to introduce the supply chain apprenticeships for procurement and office staff based at the Meir Park site. Our logistics assessor, Andy Coomer, has delivered apprenticeships and functional skills for the company since 2008, including existing warehousing and distribution staff who are trained at a higher level to take on supervisory responsibilities.

In addition, we are offering Well Pharmacy employees access to free distance learning courses, such as team leading and customer service. The apprenticeship model we deliver is very flexible and responsive and that’s what levy paying employers value.”

Heather Leonard is Learning and Development Manager at Well Pharmacy. She says: “Under the levy scheme, we have been able to provide additional training to existing staff, as well as recruiting new apprentices as part of our ongoing expansion.”

Stoke on Trent College has an apprenticeships helpline for any levy employers who need help to plan or spend their levy funds before the April deadline, with HMRC operating a ‘use it or lose it’ policy to unspent levy funds.

Katy Chesters adds: “We are seeing a big demand from companies who have had the apprenticeships levy deducted from their payroll but have been unsure how to use those funds to train new or existing staff. We have the helpline in place so we can provide the best advice and come up with a responsive solution to meet business needs.”

The apprenticeships levy team can be contacted at Stoke on Trent College on 01782 603603 or by email at business@stokecoll.ac.uk

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