Louise Fountain tells us why she decided on an apprenticeship in the NHS


I started working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in May 2015 and am due to finish in May 2016. I had been working in retail, but I was working unsocial hours and I really wanted to find an office job. I saw this position advertised on the NHS jobs page and thought it looked really interesting so I decided to apply. Most of my friends are in part-time or full-time work at the moment so I didn’t know a lot about apprenticeships. My mum was initially concerned about the low wages, but has been very supportive and I make sure that I budget very carefully.

Within my apprenticeship I spend two days a week in HR and two days a week in the UNISON office supporting the Branch Secretary. I then have one day a week to use as a study day, and this can either be at the hospital or at home. I have a tutor that comes in to see me about once a month to talk about what work I need to complete and then I contact her when I have done it. Although I have only been doing it for two months my tutor says that I am doing really well and am already ahead of schedule.

Some of the things I do in my role include checking and responding to emails, answering the phone and taking messages, editing and updating documents and inputting data onto our Nurse Bank system. I feel that my IT skills have improved a lot in the last two months, especially with regards to spreadsheets as I hadn’t used them since I left school and I also have a lot more confidence in communicating with lots of different people.

I have also recently become a UNISON member. From spending two days a week working with the Branch Secretary I have seen how much help the union gives to its members, and I wanted to be able to get help myself as well if I need it.

When I complete my apprenticeship my aim would be to move into a full-time permanent job within the hospital as well as progressing with a further NVQ.

If anyone is thinking about becoming an apprentice I would say that it is definitely a good idea and is much better than going to college. As an apprentice you are gaining experience right from the beginning and you also get paid at the same time.

If you are an apprentice in the Health sector and you would like to share your experiences please contact Emily Sole, Regional Learning and Development Organiser (e.sole@unison.co.uk)

Apprenticeships and UNISON: Why the two go together. Watch the videos here

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