Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment (Wales)

Framework status: Current (latest) issue

Framework details

Framework ID: FR03968
Issue number: 2
Issued: 18 October 2016

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Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment (Wales)
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Issued by

Contact name: Sandie Absalom
Telephone number: 02476 696996
Please download the framework for email contact information.


Defining Apprenticeships

An Apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development programme under an Apprenticeship Agreement designed by employers in the sector. It allows the apprentice to gain technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with essential skills, required for their immediate job and future career. These are acquired through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal off the job training and the opportunity to practice and embed new skills in a real work context. This broader mix differentiates the Apprenticeship experience from training delivered to meet narrowly focused job needs.

All apprentices commencing their Apprenticeship must have an Apprenticeship Agreement between the employer and the apprentice. This can be used to reinforce the understanding of the requirements of the Apprenticeship.

On completion of the Apprenticeship the apprentice must be able to undertake the full range of duties, in the range of circumstances appropriate to the job, confidently and competently to the standard set by the industry.

Summary of the purpose of the framework

The Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment Foundation Apprenticeship has been developed for those who are not registered veterinary nurses or student veterinary nurses, but who are in contact with the animals in veterinary environments, which could be a veterinary practice or a veterinary clinic in an animal welfare establishment. The framework will provide a progression route for those wanting to develop their skills and knowledge further and apply to enrol and train to become a Registered Veterinary Nurse.

As a member of a veterinary care team, the role of veterinary care assistants/animal nursing assistants’ will involve some important aspects of caring for animals on a daily basis including cleaning, feeding, handling and grooming. It is important to note that their working role is under the direction or supervision of a veterinary surgeon and they are subject to the Veterinary Surgeons Act. Further information can be obtained from the guidance published by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Animal nursing assistants work mainly with domestic animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits, although they may also work with other animals including exotic species such as reptiles and birds, which are becoming increasingly popular as pets. Animal health and welfare is extremely important to the industry ensuring that the appropriate care is given to animals and with the change in the animal welfare legislation there is now an even greater need for everyone working with animals to continue to train in animal health and welfare to meet the requirements of duty of care. People working in this area will need to keep up to date with codes of practice, as well as potential areas of secondary legislation.

An apprentice on the Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment Foundation Apprenticeship can be employed by any veterinary practice or centre with a veterinary clinic.  The veterinary activities industry is very supportive of Apprenticeships. It is not only the employers that find Apprenticeships beneficial; Lantra research has shown that apprentices find their experiences on an Apprenticeship programme rewarding and the course meets their career expectations due to the mixture of on- and off-the-job training. Many of the apprentices in the industry will remain in employment and continue with their studies.

Currently, the veterinary activities industry represents a small proportion of the land-based and environmental sector with an estimate of 47,500 employees in 4,760 businesses UK wide, compared to 2,700 employees in 260 businesses in Wales (Lantra research, 2011).  However, there are likely to be more in the industry as there is some overlap with animal hospitals, which may be run by animal welfare organisations such as the PDSA or Blue Cross which are recorded within the animal care industry. This research also found that 11% of the businesses in the industry had a vacancy, of which 5% were hard-to-fill vacancies and 24% of all the businesses reported that there was a skills gap in the current employees. Many of the skills that employees lack or where vacancies are hard-to-fill is because there is a shortage of technical/practical skills (animal health and welfare, handling animals), customer relations, written and oral communication skills, planning and organisation. The aim of this framework is to upskill the entrants into the veterinary nursing industry ensuring that they gain the necessary skills for the job preparing them for the technical nature of this career.

The purpose of the framework is to provide structured training opportunities for those working within a veterinary environment and who are not veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses or student veterinary nurses. This framework is needed by the industry and could lead on to a number of career progressions routes including the Apprenticeship in Veterinary Nursing.

The framework will also contribute to meeting the wider skills priorities in Wales by:

  • Providing flexible access to a high quality (Level 2) skills programme for those entering the Veterinary Nursing industry
  • Incorporating skills to improve the levels of general literacy and numeracy in Wales
  • Using technical and competence qualifications, valued by employers, to help their businesses grow
  • Developing apprentices’ employability skills, making them more attractive to all employers whatever career they choose
  • Providing a career pathway into jobs and training at foundation through to higher levels, to provide the skills that the economy needs to grow.

The Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment Foundation Apprenticeship framework offers one pathway, which is relatively broad, to cover all aspects of work that the apprentice may be completing within the veterinary care environment.

Job roles at Level 2 (Foundation Apprenticeship) may include: animal nursing assistant or veterinary care assistant.

Further information on the veterinary activities industry can be found at:

Download framework

Nursing Assistants in a Veterinary Environment (Wales)
(PDF document 2.06 MB)