Here at Rowcroft we have over 200 members of staff and 450 volunteers, helping to provide comfort, care and support for more than 2200 patients and their loved ones across South Devon every year.
As a hospice, we offer a number of different apprenticeships ranging from administration to events management, retail logistics to roles in finance. We work with South Devon College to give young people the opportunity to start a career in something they may not have considered doing, learning whilst they work.
Although we know that all the apprentices at Rowcroft enjoy their time here, we wanted to find out what an apprenticeship is really like, so we decided to speak to the apprentices themselves…
Naomi was just 17 when she started her administrative apprenticeship with our Community Team. Her role included tasks such as taking referrals and collecting data, as well as taking many phone calls with patients’ family members. Her apprenticeship helped her build confidence in the workplace, whilst learning how to act professionally in a working environment. It took her just two years to complete her qualifications and she’s now been offered a permanent position as Junior Secretary at Rowcroft.
When asked what her highlights from her studies were, she said: “Working with all the new processes and doing the reports was a really interesting process for me to be involved with – gaining my confidence in the team was also a massive highlight.”
Supporting someone to learn a role whilst helping them achieve a formal qualification is something we’re incredibly proud of doing. Michelle Jeeves, Naomi’s line manager, said: “It was wonderful to be able to offer Naomi a permanent job at the end of her programme. Naomi is a hard worker and even took on additional credits, whilst working full time, which was tough for her.
“I echo what the rest of the team have said, we are absolutely thrilled to have Naomi on board.”
Chris is another member of staff who started at the hospice as an events apprentice in January last year. Having completed his apprenticeship in just eight months, he’s also become a permanent member of the team.
Speaking about what his apprenticeship taught him, he said: “I learned very quickly that I was much more capable than I thought I was. Doing an apprenticeship made me realise that I’ve got a wider range of skills than I gave myself credit for.
“I’ve been able to increase and improve things like my time management and problem solving, and my ability to work as part of a team has massively improved.”
However, much like any form of education, there are still many challenging things to consider before taking on an apprenticeship. Each qualification comes with its own challenges, for Chris it was the long shifts on event days: “We started at 7am on the day of the Sleep Walk and didn’t finish until 3am the following day.”
He goes on to say: “I find contacting corporate businesses and asking them for sponsorship, or gifts-in-kind quite daunting. But a definite highlight for me would be working with such a fantastic group of people and for such a worthwhile organisation.”
Nikki Hayes is both Naomi and Chris’s assessor at South Devon College and made visits to the hospice every ten weeks to see how they were both getting on throughout their studies. She would sit in on their day-to-day activities and advise them on how to further improve their work skillset. She said: “It’s been really lovely to see both Chris and Naomi’s journey from day one and I’m so pleased they have both been offered permanent roles at Rowcroft.”
Director of Human Resources, Tracey Cole, said we rely heavily on the generosity of the people of South Devon, stating: “We wanted to give something back to the community, offering apprenticeships seemed one way we could achieve this. Also being one of the bigger employers in Torbay it seemed only right to take apprentices and trying to give them the best start we can in either the start of their career or with a change of career felt an important thing to do.”
She continued: “The feeling of helping an apprentice achieve their qualifications and to see them grow into a different person from the start of their apprenticeship to the end, when hopefully they will get a job with us, is something very special for both the apprentice and the people working with them.”
If you’re thinking about applying for an apprenticeship instead of heading to university, Chris has one last piece of advice he would like to share: “It’s such a great way to get in to a career in a new field of work, because you get to learn whilst on the job and get a qualification at the end of it.”
If you would like start a new career and work for Rowcroft, find out if we have any apprenticeships available by visiting www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/current-vacancies.