The majority of pharmacy technicians feel well prepared for practice after training according to new research

Research commissioned by the GPhC examined how the 2017 standards for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians (IETPT) have affected professional practice.

The research was commissioned by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in 2023 and carried out by the Centre for Pharmacy Workforce Studies (CPWS) at the University of Manchester and the consultancy service, ICF. 

Its primary purpose was to examine whether the 2017 standards for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians have made a difference to the skills and performance of pharmacy technicians in comparison to the previous 2010 standards. It examined how the standards have affected the experiences of newly qualified pharmacy technicians, employers, and course providers.

The research report has now been published and provides insights into the implementation of the 2017 standards through initial education and training, the extent to which they are fit for purpose, and recommendations for the future. The findings of this research will help inform the work we are doing to review and update the 2017 IETPT standards.

The findings are based on a survey of 142 recently registered pharmacy technicians as well as qualitative interviews with 21 employers and supervisors of trainees, and recently registered pharmacy technicians in various sectors, as well as representatives from six different course providers. 

The report

Key findings  

  • Overall 72% of pharmacy technicians felt “well prepared” for practice, with 24% feeling “prepared”*
  • 82% of pharmacy technicians in community pharmacy, and 64% in hospital pharmacy felt “well prepared” for practice
  • Overall, 96% felt the course covered person-centred care, professionalism and professional knowledge and skills well
  • The vast majority (94%) of recently registered pharmacy technicians surveyed had continued to stay in the profession
  • The most important motivation for aspiring pharmacy technicians was to work in a job with good career opportunities (86% of respondents agreed with this statement)

Key recommendations for the GPhC

  • To use future standards to communicate expectations to the sector, for example clarifying what is expected in terms of consistent supervision and protected learning time
  • To have greater engagement with community and primary care employers to help remove some of the inconsistencies in pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians’ experiences between sectors
  • To continue to work with course providers to develop their offer, specifically considering how many courses now offer a blended learning model.

Chief Strategy Officer at the GPhC, Mark Voce, said 

“Given the importance of the work carried out by pharmacy technicians, it is essential  that their education and training  keeps up-to-date and reflects changes in pharmacy practice.

“We therefore welcome this research and will use the findings and recommendations to inform our ongoing regulatory work around the initial education and training of Pharmacy Technicians and assurance of practice for those already registered. 

You can read the full report on our website

Notes for Editors

Standards of initial education and training for pharmacy technicians set out the criteria at which we will approve education and training leading to registration. The standards ensure that newly registered pharmacy technicians are competent to practise safely and effectively.

In October 2017, we revised the standards for the initial education and training of pharmacy technicians 

Our current standards emphasise person-centred professionalism, communication and team working, through the integration of learning and experience during the training.

All education and training providers have been offering pharmacy technician courses based on these standards since 2019. 

* Where “well prepared” is classified as respondents rating themselves as 8 or above on a 10 point preparedness scale; and “prepared” is a rating of 5-7 inclusive.