I didn’t set out to be a support worker. I wanted and still want to be a Mental Health Nurse, but I knew that I couldn’t just walk into the job. I needed experience and the best way to get it was through an apprenticeship, starting at the bottom and working my way up. I had no experience; no financial backing and although I’d like to think I was mature, at 18 I still didn’t think I was mature enough to go straight into nursing. So an apprenticeship was the best option.
I applied for ID’s 4 week pre- apprenticeship course, in September of 2011, which I gained a place on and completed. When I finished, I had to wait before anything materialised but eventually, in late November 2011, ID contacted me and said that they’d arranged an interview with Coquet Trust for an apprenticeship, where I would be working with individuals with learning disabilities. I went along to the interview and the next day I got a phone call from ID saying that I had got the apprenticeship. Within the next few weeks I had an induction and began both the written and practical sides to the apprenticeship.
What was really good, when I started the apprenticeship, was how everything meshed together. I was given a range of different placements, I moved around every 4-6 weeks, although I did spend longer in some placements. My line manager at Coquet Trust worked with my assessor from ID to make sure the units I was doing were relevant to the placements where I was working, so that when I came to do the academic work, I’d already had the practical experience.
The money was OK too. Although, when I turned 18 last March, the Trust thought I was already competent to work as a support worker, so I started doing some relief work, at the same rate as the other support workers, on top of my apprenticeship hours. It was great because it gave me a lot more experience on top of what I was already getting.
I was able to finish my apprenticeship early, in late august- early September 2012 and I’ve been working full time for 6 months now. In January this year I was given the opportunity to complete a Level 3 apprenticeship in health and social care and have just begun the process, completing my first assignment. I am hoping to have finished this by the end of the year and that it will help to develop my skills and knowledge in the field as well as giving me the confidence to apply for university and any job roles that may arise in the future.
Overall, I know I made the right decision and I value the experience I have been given greatly. It was a great way to get started in a new career after completing my AS-levels and leaving 6th form.