Apprenticeships that support public health careers: November 2019 update

Updated 11 May 2021

This is an update on the development of new apprenticeship standards in England that support careers focussing on the promotion and protection of the public’s health and wellbeing.

These new standards flow from the governments’ ambitions, set out in English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision, published in 2015, which aims to increase opportunities for people to pursue on-the-job vocational training at all academic levels, and including professional occupations.

1. Background to apprenticeships

An apprenticeship combines practical training in a job with a minimum of 20% off-the-job training. The process of apprenticeship development is employer-led and collaborative, to ensure that apprentices are ‘fit-for-purpose’ for the full range of workplaces in which they are employed.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) oversee the development, approval and publication of apprenticeship standards. The process of apprenticeship development is detailed on the Institute’s website.

New apprenticeship standards are developed by groups of employers, named ‘Trailblazer Groups’.

A successful apprenticeship relies on a strong tripartite relationship between the employer, apprentice and training provider with clear roles and commitments. Employers and training providers will often establish a working relationship prior to recruiting the apprentice. A successful apprenticeship will require competent management, mentorship and supervision in the workplace to support their ‘on-the-job’ learning and development. This will be in addition to, and to complement the mentoring and general support they will receive from the training provider. An initial assessment is carried out at the start to ensure that prior accredited learning is considered. This may reduce the duration of the apprenticeship.

2. Public Health Practitioner (integrated degree) apprenticeship standard


Public Health Practitioners are employed across a range of organisations including the NHS, Public Health England, and local authorities. They focus on the public’s health at a community and population level. This apprenticeship standard will enable employers to build their own practitioner or implementation workforce by providing a development pathway for existing staff and new recruits.

Example job titles:

  • Public Health Practitioner
  • Health Protection Practitioner
  • Health Improvement Practitioner
  • Public Health Intelligence Officer
  • Public Health Data Analyst
  • Healthy Lifestyles Coordinator
  • Tobacco Control Lead
  • Workplace Health Advisor
  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Prevention Lead
  • Immunisation Programme Coordinator
  • Accident Prevention Officer
  • Community Development Worker
  • Community Engagement Officer
  • Public Health Project Manager
  • Health and Wellbeing Coordinator

The apprenticeship standard was approved in October 2019 by the Institute. It is made up of 14 occupational duties, which describe the competences and activities a PHP would commonly do in the workplace. A set of descriptors for the knowledge, skills and behaviour requirements for each duty is available on the Institute’s website. The duties correspond to the functions of the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF) across technical, context and delivery areas of practice. The fourteenth duty reflects the ethical and professional standards that are universally applicable across all practice, also described in the PHSKF.

On completion, the apprentice can apply for professional registration with the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR), subject to UKPHR’s application and verification requirements. This is a voluntary register.

For more information about this apprenticeship, contact

3. Health and Care Intelligence Specialist apprenticeship standard


Health and Care Intelligence Specialists take data on individual or population health and use of services and other forms of evidence such as scientific publications and evidence reviews and turn it into health and care intelligence. This intelligence is used to inform and influence decision makers across the health and care system, leading to improved population health and better patient outcomes and experiences. They are involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of health and care services at both strategic and operational levels.

Heath and Care Intelligence Specialists are employed by government departments, arms-length bodies such as Public Health England, NHS England, NHS organisations and local authorities, Community Interest Companies (CIC) and Academic Health Science Networks.

Example job titles:

  • Senior (or Principal) Public Health Intelligence Analyst
  • Senior (or Principal) Information Analyst
  • Senior Cancer Information Analyst
  • Senior Information Scientist
  • Senior Business Intelligence Analyst (often used for NHS roles)
  • Insight and Intelligence Manager

Health and Care Intelligence is not a regulated profession and so a licence to practice is not required. AphA (Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts) have a registration scheme and it is expected that completion of the Apprenticeship will fulfil most of the requirements for registration. The AphA registration then provides entry to the professional register of FedIP (Federation for Informatics Professionals in health and social care), a collaboration between leading professional bodies in health and care informatics.

The apprenticeship standard was approved in September 2019 by the Institute. The Trailblazer Group are now focusing on the end-point assessment plan, aiming to submit this for approval in early 2020.

Typically, an apprentice might be expected to have already achieved a first degree, in a relevant subject or have acquired relevant experience. Successful apprentices from the level 6 Public Health Practitioner apprenticeship standard would be eligible for this standard if they can provide evidence of numeracy and exposure to statistics, to meet the entry requirements of the training providers for the Level 7 standard.

The duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with this apprenticeship can be found on the Institute’s website. For more information about this apprenticeship, contact

4. Specialist Community and Public Health Nurse apprenticeship standard


Specialist Community and Public Health Nurses are made up of:

  • Health Visitors
  • School Nurses
  • Occupational Health Nurses

This is a regulated profession, for which the regulatory body is the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Apprentices are required to already be registered nurses on Part 1 of the NMC register or registered midwives. The training provider and end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) must be also approved by the regulator.

The broad purpose of this occupation is to make sure that people are supported at different stages of their lives, ensuring that individuals have the best start in life and experience good health and wellbeing across the lifespan. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses assess the health needs of individuals, families, workplaces and the wider community to promote and protect good health and wellbeing, prevent illness and provide interventions or advice.

This is a ‘core and options’ apprenticeship. There are 2 options available:

  1. Health Visitor / School Nurse
    Health visitors and school nurses are employed in the NHS, local authorities, community interest companies, social enterprises and schools. They work mainly with children, their families and communities. School nurses are usually linked to a school or group of schools.
  2. Occupational Health Nurse
    Occupational health nurses work across a wide range of environments and in any workplace (eg construction sites, armed combat, global business), and are employed by any type of employer in the public, private and voluntary sectors. They are involved in protecting health at work through risk management programmes, providing expert advice, and promoting health and wellbeing within the workforce in line with health and safety legislation and the public health agenda.

The qualifications undertaken for each option are different, but both options are approved by the NMC and will lead to registration as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse.

The duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with this apprenticeship can be found on the Institute’s website. The latest information about this apprenticeship is on the HASO website or contact

5. Environmental Health Practitioner (integrated degree) apprenticeship standard


Environmental Health Practitioners are based locally, regionally, nationally or internationally, typically employed within local authorities, but also by third-party and private businesses.

People in this occupation act as advisers, educators, consultants and enforcement officers, enabling people to live and work in safe and healthy environments. For example, inspecting food premises and workplaces for food safety and health and safety compliance, monitoring air quality, undertaking emergency interventions, investigating food fraud, safety and noise control at large events, dealing with rogue landlords, investigating food poisoning outbreaks, licensing tattoo parlours and investigating accidents at work.

Example job titles:

  • Environmental Health Officer
  • Environmental Health Practitioner
  • Environmental Health Professional
  • Safety Auditor
  • Food Inspector
  • Housing Officer
  • Public Protection Officer

This apprenticeship allows entry to The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Member grade. On completion, the apprentice can enrol on the Chartered Practitioner Programme.

The duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with this standard can be found on the Institute’s website. The latest information about this apprenticeship is on the HASO website or contact

6. Systems Thinking Practitioner apprenticeship standard


Systems Thinking Practitioners support decision-makers in strategic and leadership roles to understand and address complex problems through the provision of expert systemic analysis, advice and facilitation. They are often found in arenas where complex problems exist that cannot be addressed by any one organisation or person, which require cross-boundary collaboration within and between organisations.

Employers of systems thinking practitioners include central and local government, multilaterals, defence, education and innovation/research, and the health service; globalised corporations with complex supply chain and partner relationships; international banks and financial services; NGOs and social enterprises addressing social challenges; consultancy service providers working with any of the above.

There has been representation from the public health community on the employer trailblazer for this group, and the knowledge, skills and behaviours support the development of capabilities in leading and collaborating across systems and society to support the public health endeavour.

Example job titles:

  • Systems Thinking Practitioner
  • System Change Lead
  • Systemic Designer
  • Transformation Lead

This standard has professional recognition with Systems & Complexity in Organisations (SCiO) at Advanced Practitioner level 7.

The duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with this standard can be found on the Institute’s website. For more information about this apprenticeship, contact

7. Supporting community-centred roles


  • Status: scoping Occupational Proposal
  • Occupational level: 3 or 4

In March 2019, Public Health England convened a workshop to explore the employer demand for an advanced level apprenticeship (level 3 or 4, see academic levels) for community-centred roles, such as:

  • Social prescribing link workers
  • Care or service navigators
  • Health Trainers or Coaches
  • Community Connectors
  • other similar role titles

The event was attended by more than 60 representatives from local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, charities, social enterprises, NHS providers and Health Education England.

There was broad support for continuing to scope an apprenticeship standard, to reflect both the interests of employers and the clear direction of travel in government policy around health, care and other public service areas. Details are available in the workshop report.

One of the recommendations from this workshop was to connect with employers and front-line workers to better understand the duties, capabilities and current training opportunities for this workforce that could help to shape the apprenticeship standard.

This consultation aimed to:

  • better understand and articulate the duties and capabilities of people in community-centred roles
  • determine how these workers are currently being trained and developed to discharge these duties
  • establish the extent of employer need and commitment to an apprenticeship standard at level 3 or 4 for this workforce

The activity relating to this proposed standard is currently being driven by the existing Public Health Practitioner Trailblazer Group. If the results from the survey establish the need and commitment to an apprenticeship standard, this group will submit an Occupational Proposal to the Institute. The name of the occupation will be established through the consultation and discussion with the wider workforce.

For more information about this potential apprenticeship, contact