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Take your first steps on the “ladder of opportunity”
03/03/2017

​Healthcare staff who have used an apprenticeship to help them climb the career ladder are encouraging others keen on earning while they learn to consider following their lead by joining Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Two staff who started off as apprentices have shared their stories in the run up to National Apprenticeship Week, which begins on Monday 6 March and this year carries the theme “ladder of opportunity”.

Among them is Luke Rivens who joined the Trust in December 2015 as an ICT apprentice and secured a permanent position just eight months later after completing a Level 3 Diploma in IT for Users. The 21-year-old is now hoping to study for further qualifications and eventually complete a degree, all while continuing to work for NSFT.

“The apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to join a good organisation while also studying for qualifications which were relevant to my day-to-day work,” said Luke, who lives in New Costessey. “It offered a great alternative to university and a different route through which I could learn.

“I really enjoy my job and have always been passionate about mental health and what the Trust does. Even though I am not clinical, I like the fact that I am able to play a small role in a big machine by helping the doctors, nurses and team leaders who have face-to-face contact with the patients.

“I was delighted when I was offered a permanent job and was quite emotional as it was something I really wanted and felt like all of my hard work had finally paid off.

“I’m looking forward to earning more qualifications and moving up in the Trust and eventually go into project management. Ideally this would be with NSFT as I personally received care from the Trust when I was younger so would like to give something back.

“I would highly recommend apprenticeships. It has opened the door to my ideal job and given me the chance to get a foot on the ladder in the NHS, which is brilliant.”

NSFT also offers apprenticeships in clinical roles for those keen on working directly with patients and service users, such as Rebecca Bilham, who joined the Trust as an apprentice Clinical Support Worker in 2015.

The 19-year-old was offered a permanent position with the community Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) after finishing her apprenticeship in August. She is now mid-way through a two-year Assistant Practitioner Foundation Degree and hopes to go on to qualify as a mental health nurse in the future.

“I absolutely love my job and was really pleased when I was offered a permanent position,” said Rebecca, who lives in Norwich. “I now lead visits to care homes across Norfolk to monitor patients and report back to the nursing team who may then change their medication as a result.

“My team is really supportive and allow me to work flexibly so that I can spend one day each week either at the University of Suffolk or studying. Some of the people in my team are also completing the same course, which is great as we are a support system for each other.

“I have been really lucky that I’ve been able to take my studying to the next level. My apprenticeship opened the door for me and is going to take me all the way through to degree level. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

National Apprenticeship Week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and traineeships, while stressing the positive impact they have on businesses, as well as the individuals who are fulfilling the roles.

For more information about apprenticeship opportunities at NSFT, contact Jane Stringer on 01603 421564 or by email at jane.stringer@nsft.nhs.uk