University of Sheffield apprentices provide vital support to healthcare and industry

7th February 2022

More people have achieved nursing apprenticeships at the University of Sheffield compared to the national average for England, according to figures released ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 February 2022).

  • University of Sheffield apprentices are making a major contribution to frontline NHS services and helping to close the skills gap in South Yorkshire and across the UK.

  • A total of 110 Nursing Associates completed their apprenticeships at the University’s Health Sciences School providing vital care for the critically ill in local hospitals, hospices and GP surgeries - well above the national completion rate.

  • The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre has trained more than 1,700 apprentices, working with more than 450 businesses from across the South Yorkshire region and beyond since it opened in 2013.

  • Apprenticeships at the AMRC Training Centre are developed and delivered with industry for industry, enabling employers to respond to needs and changes and ensuring skill levels are maintained within their workforces.

More people have achieved nursing apprenticeships at the University of Sheffield compared to the national average for England, according to figures released ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 February 2022).

The statistics show that despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, a total of 110 Nursing Associates completed their apprenticeships at the University - with an achievement rate of 80 per cent, which is much higher than the national average (estimated at 60 per cent). 

The dedicated apprentices have each completed 3,000 hours of learning and more than 2,000 hours of work placements in local hospitals, GP surgeries, hospices and with community healthcare providers over the two year programme, which continued throughout the pandemic.

Many of the students directly cared for the critically ill during their work placements, providing vital support to the local healthcare workforce in South Yorkshire, despite the challenges they faced during extremely difficult times.

The University of Sheffield was specially selected as the education provider for Trainee Nursing Associate Apprenticeships across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw back in 2018, providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing many students would previously not have thought possible. 

The role has been introduced to help build the capacity of the local nursing workforce and deliver high-quality care while supporting registered nurses and wider-disciplinary teams to focus on more complex clinical duties.

Thomas Beresford completed his nursing apprenticeship in 2020, during the first national lockdown, and is now responsible for groups and patients within A&E. Thomas always wanted to progress in his nursing career after being a healthcare assistant in both Intensive Care and Accident and Emergency prior to starting his apprenticeship and always wanted to go to university to get a qualification, but was previously unable to do so. 

The Nursing Associate Apprenticeship scheme worked well for Thomas as he was able to still work full time and gain a qualification at the same time.

Thomas said: “The apprenticeship has helped me up-skill on both my clinical skills and evidence based knowledge around why we do what we do. It has allowed me to continue to learn and develop my skills whilst remaining clinical for a large percentage of the time. The apprenticeship allowed me to stay in A&E where I feel it helped me to gain valuable experience.

“I enjoyed learning how to write in an academic way and also have to research and evidence this following a structured tool. The academic side offers you the chance to ask questions in regards to why we do what we do and learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

“Clinically, although at first I wasn’t too keen on going onto other wards and different placement areas, I found that going to these different areas are very beneficial as they all offer a different style/field of nursing. Also the learning opportunities gained from these placements are invaluable.”

On graduation, Thomas returned back to an Accident and Emergency department as a qualified nursing associate. Thomas added: “The apprenticeship route has many benefits - overall the main one is that you are still in full time employment whilst completing a degree at university, all of which is paid for! The apprenticeship route is also good for people who prefer to learn hands-on and for many who are considering this role, this would likely be their preferred way of learning.

“The course can change your professional life, it opens different avenues and opportunities throughout your career. It gives you the chance to become a registered nurse or go into a different specialist area.”

Lynne Firth, Director of Apprenticeships at the University of Sheffield’s Health Sciences School, said: “The Health Sciences School here at the University of Sheffield is extremely proud of the achievements of our apprenticeships over the last 12 months. Our employers and our team have worked relentlessly to ensure 110 Nursing Associates enter the local qualified and registered workforce over the period. 

“Our achievement rate is over 20 per cent higher than the national benchmark for the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship standard. This is down to the dedication of all staff involved and the high levels of motivation of the apprentices, who have been working in high stress healthcare settings during the pandemic. We would like to thank everyone involved in this tremendous achievement."

In addition to nursing, the University of Sheffield also provides apprenticeships in manufacturing and psychology to help people establish and progress in their career. 

The apprenticeships are delivered in collaboration with employers to help apprentices gain the key skills needed in their industry. This collaborative approach to training is playing a crucial role in helping to close the skills gap in business and industry throughout Sheffield, the South Yorkshire region and across the UK. 

The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre has worked with more than 450 businesses from across South Yorkshire and beyond since it opened in 2013, training more than 1,700 apprentices. 

Being part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, apprentices at the AMRC Training Centre gain nationally-recognised qualifications, backed by the University of Sheffield, an elite Russell Group university, and the resources of a world-leading research and innovation organisation in the AMRC, whose 460-plus partners include Siemens, Technicut, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Toyota Motorsport GMBH, Unilever, McLaren and Airbus.

Apprentices at the AMRC Training Centre have access to the very latest, state-of-the-art equipment, earn while they learn, are guided by expert trainers from industry and get work experience from day one, with options to progress to degree and postgraduate levels.

Sam Redgrave, a mature student who is undertaking an advanced apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre and is employed by NiftyLift, has praised AMRC Training Centre apprenticeship staff and his employer for helping to reorientate and change his life after struggling with his mental health.

The 36-year-old has always had a passion for engineering and began working as soon as he left school, starting out as a car mechanic. However, he sustained nerve damage to his left arm after an accident, which made it more difficult for him to carry out this job. 

Keen to stay in a similar discipline, Sam began looking into what other work he could do, but being in his mid-30s, he was a little apprehensive about making such a big career move later in life, particularly after spending a number of years battling social anxiety and depression.

Sam moved to Chesterfield with his mum and applied to a number of local colleges, however the AMRC Training Centre was the only one to accept him and he started his apprenticeship there in September 2019. 

Sam is currently working towards an advanced apprenticeship in engineering and is due to complete this by the end of February 2022. He said he owes a big thanks to the AMRC Training Centre for giving him a chance when others wouldn’t and for getting him to where he is today, helping to pave his way to a career he loves.

Sam said: “My mental health has definitely improved since I started my apprenticeship with the AMRC Training Centre and working at Niftylift. Both my tutors and work colleagues have helped me to come out of my shell and become a person in society again and I can’t thank them enough for giving me a chance. They’ve helped me to re-orientate and change my life. 

“I am not saying it has been easy. There have been a lot of struggles and spinning plates - but I was determined to succeed, and the perseverance has paid off. I would encourage anyone to make a change at an older age if that’s what they want. Don’t give up, it is worth giving it a go.”

Sam is an apprentice production engineer at Niftylift and works at the Hoyland site in Barnsley. His role includes ensuring the smooth running of production and devises ways to improve processes. He also has two additional roles, being a paint specialist and site survey engineer.

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre, said: “Sam has shown great courage and determination to progress in his studies with us here at the AMRC Training Centre. Despite having personal struggles, we’ve had the honour of watching him grow, both in terms of the practical skills and knowledge he needs for a rewarding career, but also in confidence in his own abilities to be one of the bright and talented engineers we need to power our manufacturing workforces.

“National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity for us to highlight the amazing work being done by our skilled apprentices, such as Sam, and their employers within the South Yorkshire region and beyond. 

“There are many different pathways available for aspiring apprentices and a well-chosen programme can really kick-start their journeys into highly successful and rewarding careers.”

Nikki added: “Employers appreciate how our training is developed and delivered with industry and for industry, to ensure we’re meeting the skills demand and pace of change with technology. What that means is our apprentices can hit the ground running and contribute directly to businesses achieving their objectives. 

"It is fantastic to hear employers telling us how their apprentices have helped them to improve efficiency, to innovate and to develop the quality of their products and services.”

The University of Sheffield is also one of only four higher education institutions in the UK to offer Clinical Associate Psychologist (CAP) apprenticeships, which train people to work in and contribute to adult mental health services in the NHS.

Taught at a Masters level, the programme produces skilled, compassionate and competent clinical associate psychologists who consistently contribute to the mental health of service users and also improve the service that is offered.

The apprentices train in the NHS and go into the role of a CAP in the same Trust on qualification.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “I would like to wish a happy National Apprenticeship Week to all apprentices across the UK. Apprenticeships offer a great opportunity to learn skills while in employment and to gain strong vocational qualifications to support career development. 

“At the University of Sheffield, we offer apprenticeships in a number of subjects including manufacturing, nursing and psychology. We offer apprenticeships from level three at our AMRC Training Centre, through to degree and postgraduate level. As a Russell Group university, we are proud to work with a range of companies and organisations so we can identify the type of skills and training that can help to make our economy and society more productive and resilient.”

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