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12th February 2021

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we spoke to Health Care Support Worker apprentice Harvey Wilkinson to gain a better insight into the apprenticeship experience…

Name: Harvey Wilkinson
Employer: Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Apprenticeship Course: Health Care Support Worker

How did you get into doing an apprenticeship and what appealed to you about this particular role?
Working in a hospital was something that I was drawn to from a young age. I don’t honestly know why that was the case but it has always appealed to me. Although I didn’t know what particular role I wanted to do, that is where the apprenticeship has helped me massively - it was a way of getting my foot in the door and finding out what was right for me.

The fact that it is so hands-on provided an opportunity to get stuck in right from the off and to be able to have the opportunity to learn my job whilst actually in the working environment has been ideal. Being hands-on and physically doing the job works better for me rather than being in a classroom reading a textbook all day.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other routes available to you after leaving school?
To go straight into an apprenticeship after leaving school was the perfect option for me because it allowed me to combine working and learning. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think going down the apprenticeship route can be a lot harder because you have to cover both the work and learning elements rather than just doing one. It can be a bit of a juggling act having to balance the two elements at the same time, but I firmly believe the benefits of learning on the job are worth the extra work and commitment required.

Ultimately, that’s what an apprenticeship lets you do – the majority of your learning comes through being hands-on and physically doing the job in the workplace. It’s very different from what most people see as the normal route of going to college full-time after school where you’re sat behind a computer, reading a book or in the classroom. I’m more of a hands-on learner, which is why an apprenticeship works well for me.

What are your main responsibilities day-to-day?
The best way to sum it up is all aspects of caring for patients. The main focus is obviously to provide help, care and assistance to every patient we come into contact with, along with helping them to recover from whatever the reason is that they find themselves in hospital. Ultimately, I’m there to support patients and senior staff at the hospital in any way I can.

How do you find the mix between work and studying on the apprenticeship?
If you structure your time right and remain committed to both aspects of the apprenticeship, you can get your coursework done on time. Don’t get me wrong, it does take dedication and sometimes you do need to make sacrifices, especially in this role, but it’s all worth it in the long run. It is important to find that right balance between work, college, relaxing and having a social life, though. The college side of things is both easy to understand and manageable alongside the work commitments in my opinion. I think it’s important to stress that the college work is additional learning as well and the content of the course is great. It allows you to learn a lot of information and skills that you need to know to do the job properly. It’s a great and valuable addition to what you learn whilst actually working at the hospital.

How supportive have your tutors at the College been?
The one thing I cannot praise enough is the support I’ve been given throughout the apprenticeship - both from College staff and my colleagues at the hospital. Whatever issues or questions that pop up, I know I’ve got someone who I can go to for advice, guidance or help. And if the person I go to can’t help, then they can direct me to someone who can.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your apprenticeship and how do you feel you have benefitted from your experiences so far?
There’s so much that I could say to answer this question. But, the best thing I can say is that every single day is so rewarding. You go into work and, if a patient is feeling unwell or a little down, but are smiling and much happier by the time your shift ends, you leave with a smile on your own face knowing that you’ve contributed to that patient feeling better. Even if you walk out of the building knowing you’ve helped just one person, it’s such a rewarding feeling. And that happens almost every day. I must say the patients are fantastic as well. It’s never easy being stuck in a hospital when you’re unwell, but they contribute to what is a great job. I’ve definitely matured during the apprenticeship. I’ve become much more confident and have a better understanding of life and how the world works. The apprenticeship has opened my eyes a little bit and I’ve grown up a lot through the life experiences gained from working in a hospital.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?
I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had through my apprenticeship so far and it’s a route I’d recommend to anyone - whatever industry you’re looking to work in. And I’ve already advised others to go down a similar route to what I’ve done. It’s very different from what most people see as the normal route of going to college full-time after leaving school, where you’re sat behind a computer, reading a book or in the classroom. I’m more of a hands-on learner which is why an apprenticeship works well for me and that will no doubt be the case for so many others as well.

I’ve come so far in such a short space of time and had the opportunity to help so many people. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship from day one and would recommend it to anyone thinking about embarking on a career in nursing. And even if you’re not too sure about what you want to do or what industry you want to work in, just try an apprenticeship because the life experiences you gain as a result can only help you in the long-run whatever you choose to do.

What are your future plans?
Doing this apprenticeship has confirmed to me that I do want to embark on a career in nursing. I don’t know if I’ll look to move up in terms of the career ladder just yet because I’m still young and still learning. But this apprenticeship has definitely made me realise what I want to do with my life and I know that I’m in the right occupation. I love my job and it’s been a great learning curve, one that has helped me develop in so many different areas.