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Developing the team: Meet the Weldmar Apprentices

Three members of our team share their apprenticeship experiences

This week is National Apprenticeship Week.

Think of apprenticeships, and you may very well immediately imagine school and college leavers taking their first step on their chosen career ladder.

In reality, apprenticeships provide a wide range of training and educational opportunities for people of all ages, at all levels. Staff at Weldmar have an opportunity to develop both professionally and personally by studying for a qualification as an apprentice.

There is a wide range of qualifications available. They cover just about every discipline at Weldmar, from clinical to retail to finance.

Ruth Honebon began studying for the MSc Advanced Clinical Practice qualification with Bournemouth University in 2019, as an apprenticeship, which is a three year course.

Ruth says it’s been very hard work so far, but all worth it. “Being totally honest I have felt like stopping, but found the strength to continue with the ongoing growing support of the team. I can say with my hand on my heart that I would not change any of it now. I’ve grown both professionally and personally. I have learnt that with the right support we all have the potential to grow.”

The course has allowed Ruthie to develop from Clinical Education Facilitator to a new trainee role of Advanced Nurse Practitioner, which she is splitting with her regular nursing duties.

“Listen to me, taking a masters course! Who would have thought?”

Claire-McCarthy Reid is coming to the end of her current apprenticeship – a Level 3 AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting, having already completed Level 2.

In fact, Claire began that first apprenticeship just four months after she started at Weldmar, as she didn’t have any qualifications or background in finance. Now she’s coming up to the final exams of Level 3. She’s hoping to progress to Level 4 at some point in the near future.

“It’s three hours per week at college”, says Claire, “and then the equivalent amount of time doing training at work, working on things associated with your course.

How does Claire find balancing pressures of work and study? “It really depends what is going on. If there is a fundraising appeal happening there will be lots of transactions to process. Or there might be month-end processes to do, so it will be difficult to find study time, but at other times I can make up for that.

“My manager has been really supportive, and have allowed me to be flexible and spend a bit more time studying in the run up to important exams.”

“It shows that Weldmar want to progress us within our career. It’s taught me that I can do this, and I do know what I’m talking about! When an opportunity arises, I know I’ll be ready for it.”

Melanie Leyland (pictured top) has completed a Level 3 Diploma in Human Resource Practice with The College (Bournemouth & Poole) as an apprenticeship.

Melanie started at Weldmar in 2010, and was previously Admin Lead in the Education team (now Workforce Development). In 2017, she was successful in applying for a new role as People Services Adviser.

“Although I knew a lot about the organisation”, says Melanie, “and the learning and development aspects, I had to learn new areas of work, required for the new role. I applied for the apprenticeship, which supported my learning and would give me the underpinning knowledge required”

“My course lasted for a year, and I went to college once a week in term time. Whilst completing my apprenticeship I had to evidence that 20% of my time was dedicated to the course and off the job training. This included attending lectures, reading and research, listening to podcasts, attending training courses. There was also coaching from my line manager, doing a new task and seeking feedback. And not forgetting the time to write up my assignments”

“There were eight modules and assignments at the end of each of those. At the end of the course I also completed a consultative project. My competency in the role was assessed during a professional discussion, which is a key part of the apprenticeship. Completing the qualification gives you the knowledge, but as an apprenticeship you apply that knowledge in the workplace.

“Although I have worked for Weldmar for over 10 years, my apprenticeship has enabled me to gain credibility in a new role. I have developed my specialist knowledge and learned new skills required.  It’s hard work, you have to put the work in, but it’s worth it”

Thank you to Ruth, Claire, and Melanie for sharing their experiences of apprenticeships at Weldmar.

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