With over 430 staff advancing their careers through apprenticeships at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, National Apprenticeship Week (5 - 11 February) is the perfect showcase to celebrate the achievements of our apprentices and opportunities at the Trust.
Apprenticeships, which are nationally recognised qualifications that allow you to study and develop your skills while you work, can be found right across hospital sites, in all areas, both front line and behind the scenes.
Rachel Gray, Work based Learning and Apprenticeship Lead at the Trust, said: “We want to invest in our staff, support them to progress and provide an opportunity to enable them to continue developing their skills and career prospects. Apprenticeships are one way in which we can achieve this. The Trust offers a range of apprenticeship opportunities in everything from nursing, leadership and management, data quality, business administration, healthcare science, pharmacy and many others.”
Staff at the Trust told us about why they took up an apprenticeship, how it’s going and what advice they'd give to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship.
Chansa Mulmfwe is a Healthcare Assistant at Basildon Hospital
Chansa, 40, from Basildon, started part-time at Basildon Hospital in 2017. After successfully applying for a Healthcare Assistant role on Osler ward she started a top-up nursing degree apprenticeship with the University of Essex.
She said: “I’ve always enjoyed helping patients and I wanted to do more for them, but was limited by my role. Getting a job as an HCA was one of the happiest moments of my life.
“At the end of 2022, I applied for a top up nursing degree apprenticeship, which is great because it allows me to study while I work without any costs to repay. The staff at the University of Essex have been very supportive and I’m so grateful to my employer for this opportunity to improve my career.
“Even though it comes with a lot of commitment, and I need to manage my time to balance my studies with family and with work, I’m glad I made this choice because it has given me more confidence, helped me become more professional and has put me on the path to getting my dream job as a qualified Nurse.”
Tom Read is a data analyst apprentice in the Quality Improvement team at Southend Hospital
Tom, 55, from Rayleigh, worked for a bank for almost 30 years before being made redundant in 2017. After briefly retraining as a bus driver, he continued to show his drive by joining the Quality Improvement team as an analyst in March 2022.
Tom said: “My apprenticeship started in September 2023, I’d had never undertaken anything like it before and believed that an apprenticeship was only for teenagers leaving school and starting out on their work journeys.
“The best thing for me now is seeing how things can be done differently, looking, and learning about new ways to do what I am already doing. The NHS is one of the largest consumers of data in the world and the course is giving me ideas on how things could be done better. For me, whilst the apprenticeship is a big commitment, the course is quite fast paced, tutors are readily available and I get great support from my line manager.”
Gosia Walczak is a chartered manager degree apprentice working in the Breast and General Surgery division at Basildon Hospital
Gosia, 36, from Southend, has worked in several leadership roles, most recently as Service Unit Manager for surgery in Breast and Upper GI at Basildon Hospital, starting her chartered manager degree apprenticeship (CMDA) in 2021.
She said: “I was new to management roles so my manager recommended doing a management degree apprenticeship. The course covers a range of subjects and includes 20% on-the-job learning which allows me to apply the theoretical knowledge to my professional role. There’s also a diverse range of assessment methods, including written essays, reports and presentations and I’ll have a bachelor’s degree when I finish the course.
“The social element of the programme is great too; there’s a really supportive group dynamic and you have the opportunity to meet and learn from apprentices from different NHS trusts and in all different roles.
“I would absolutely recommend the CMDA apprenticeship programme to anyone looking to boost their knowledge and confidence in NHS management. It has been an incredible journey of learning, growth, and hands-on experience that I believe can benefit anyone aspiring to advance and become a better NHS professional. The apprenticeship has not only expanded my skills but has also boosted my confidence, opening doors to unexpected and exciting career prospects.”
Rebecca Blighton is a Healthcare Assistant at Broomfield Hospital who is currently in the final year of her nursing apprenticeship.
The 39-year-old from Maldon said: “The thing I like the most about the apprenticeship is being able to work alongside others to development my knowledge and skills while working and getting paid. I have made some life-long friends on the course and it’s been fantastic reaching goals with them.
“What I would say to people who are considering the apprenticeship is to do it and age is no limit, the course is so diverse and it’s never too late to start! Having the apprenticeship in place has enabled me to fulfil my career ambition.”
Over the last two years 182 apprentices have completed their courses at the Trust, which is one of the largest in the country. Apprenticeships are available for people at any stage of life – from entry level 2 qualifications right through to masters degree level. The Trust also helps those without GCSE Maths and English qualifications to improve their literacy and numeracy before they start an apprenticeship.