Celebrations got underway at Stockton Riverside College where the spotlight has fallen on apprentices from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
The team picked up accolades to mark the culmination of their studies; honing their skills in everything from medical administration to business management.
And, if you thought apprenticeships were just for school leavers, then you might want to think again.
Shining the spotlight on their staff’s achievements, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s Deputy Chief People Officer, Gary Wright, explained they recognise the value apprenticeships can offer, not just for new starters but also existing employees looking to upskill.
With a massive 160 apprentices currently at the Trust, he said: “Ultimately we want to develop our workforce of the future and help maximise people’s potential.
“By offering the opportunity for continuous professional development it enables us to make sure we have got the right people, with the right skills in the right roles. It also puts them in a good position for future development. This is an investment in them and their future.”
Working with a number of delivery partners, including Stockton Riverside College, the Trust have staff who can develop in every area from health and social care to electricians and joiners. And for some, Gary said, this might even be their first chance to pick up qualifications since leaving school.
For those who have worked there for many years, it can also be an opportunity to brush up on those all-important maths and English qualifications.
That was the case for award winner Debbie. The Stockton mum has worked in the Trust for 19 years, spending the last five as a ward clerk in the emergency assessment unit.
Given the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship in medical administration, she said: “I am always up for learning more so I put my name forward.”
She admits that balancing study around work, which includes lots of night shifts, was a bit of a juggling act, but it was well worth it.
“It was hard,” she said. “I left school 30 years ago and you don’t realise how hard things are. I also studied English, maths and IT. I was never very good at maths at school but it gets your brain working.”
Receiving a Special Recognition Award at the glittering ceremony at the college, she said: “I never in a million years expected to get anything like this. It’s nice that people appreciate your hard work.”
Jill was also among those recognised with a North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s Learner of the Year Award. Working in the breast screening unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, she said she was a little hesitant to embark on a Level 2 Medical Administration Apprenticeship but she gave it a go and never looked back.
“It has been amazing,” said the Stockton mum-of-two. “I have loved every minute of it and didn’t realise how much I would enjoy the learning experience.”
Like Debbie, she said: “It was a bit of a juggling act, but you put your mind to it and you do it.” Jill is now moving on to her level 3 qualification.
For Stockton Riverside College assessor Jamie Gilbey, seeing the apprentices achieve was a proud moment.
A former apprentice himself, he understands exactly how the learners are feeling. In fact, it is that experience that helps him in his role.
A keen advocate of apprenticeships; his is a great example of just what can be achieved.
“Apprenticeships can be a foot in the door,” he said. “But people often underestimate just what it can lead to.” He’s happy to share his experience to help inspire others.
Starting at the college as an apprentice administrator, Jamie admitted at 21 he had no idea where it would lead. But having previously found that university wasn’t for him, and having worked a series of part-time jobs, he was ready for a new start.
He said: “Apprenticeships seemed on the rise and this position came up at the college so I thought I would give it a go.”
He never imagined he would still be with the college 10 years later, having progressed through the ranks to become an officer in the admissions team and then an admissions advisor.
Jamie’s enthusiasm, commitment and ability to inspire others, had clearly caught someone’s eye as it was suggested he study his assessors’ qualifications alongside the day job.
Now qualified and working with apprentices across the Tees Valley, as an assessor he helps other apprentices navigate their own path to success.
Working with the likes of the apprentices from the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, he gets to see the value every day. He said, there’s no better feeling than sharing their success.
At the award ceremony he too was recognised with an Outstanding Contribution to the Student Experience Award.
Want to know more about the apprenticeship opportunities with Stockton Riverside College?
Visit: www.stockton.ac.uk/apprenticeships/ or call 01642 865566