How apprenticeships are just the starting point for great careers in healthcare
In 2017, Government reforms sought to improve the quality of apprenticeship training and boost the number of apprentices in the UK to 3m by 2020.
Apprenticeships are an excellent training route into healthcare for people starting their careers, as well as for individuals looking to develop and progress, and we place huge value on our apprenticeship programmes.
Not only are they a way of addressing staff shortages and boosting the workforce, but apprenticeships enable individuals to gain on the job training and build their knowledge, confidence and experience. As employers, we can upskill our teams and plug skills gaps.
Whilst many younger people go down the apprentice route straight from school, apprenticeships are open to people of all ages. They provide an excellent learning and development opportunity for current staff, allowing them to progress or change their career direction.
Training through to degree and beyond
Apprentices start at level two, which is entry level, but they can progress to degree level and even post graduate qualifications. For those interested in a career in nursing, for example, apprenticeships offer an alternative route to becoming a registered nurse without the debt that comes with going to university, as the training is funded.
For someone looking to develop a career in healthcare, but unsure in which area they’d like to work, an apprenticeship offers an opportunity to develop self-confidence, gain work experience and to earn money while learning. Individuals can try a different subject area if undecided.
There are several NHS Trusts in Northamptonshire, as well as St Andrew’s Healthcare, General Practice and adult social care, covering roles from nursing and healthcare through to healthcare pharmacy and nursery nursing.
There are also a variety of administrative roles in business, HR and finance, plus more unusual roles such as clinical coders, medical engineers, clinical engineering and healthcare science – which opens up even more career options.
Recognising the value of apprenticeships
There is a perception that people who don’t achieve the best academic grades end up on apprenticeship schemes. This simply isn’t the case. Apprenticeships are just an alternative route into a career which may be better suited to that individual.
We work with schools and colleges across the region to promote apprenticeships as an equally successful pathway into work. We also promote apprenticeships through our annual Apprenticeships Awards.
These are organised in conjunction with Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust; Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; St Andrew’s Healthcare and Adult Social Care and General Practice.
Our overall winner this year was Megan O’Connell an Estates Administrator from St Andrew’s Healthcare who won the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, as well as the Value Award for St Andrew’s Healthcare.
Megan O’Connell went into beauty therapy straight from school but decided this wasn’t for her. She joined St Andrew’s Healthcare on a Business Administration apprenticeship. She won the award because of her outstanding achievements, qualities and behaviours, plus she is very patient focused and a great ambassador for patient care.
When Megan was asked what being an apprentice meant to her she said that for her it’s all about learning a new skill and opening her mind. Megan completed all her apprenticeships while working full time and received great support from her employer and regional trainer.
Another winner was Hannah Scanlon who is Team Leader at the Local Medical Committee (LMC). Hannah won the Personal Achievement Award in 2018 and this year won the Apprentice Mentor Award.
Hannah joined Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) as a Business Administration Apprentice in 2014. Her journey shows how apprenticeships can provide a pathway to success. She is now a Team Leader at the LMC, plus she recently started a Chartered Management Degree with the Open University.
Hannah says going straight into an apprenticeship from school really was the best decision she has made, as she has learnt so much and her confidence has grown. Having established herself in her career she is now able to support other apprentices in her team.
For anyone considering a healthcare career in Northamptonshire, in a clinical or non-clinical role, apprenticeships are opening up the training and development opportunities for individuals and giving them a route into a rewarding career.
About the author
Laura Watts is apprenticeship project manager at Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership