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Trust apprentices adapt to the coronavirus pandemic

Posted: 23/06/20

Apprentices at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) are adapting to new ways of working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A provider of mental health and disability services, CNTW currently has 384 enrolled apprentices across a number of areas including admin, finance and IT, offering a way for people to learn and earn.

When the pandemic hit, many apprentices were told to continue their work and qualifications from home. Apprentices are among many employees whose normal working lives have been disrupted.

Michael Bottomley, a finance apprentice at CNTW, had recently moved roles shortly before lockdown hit.

“I was previously part of the purchase order workflow, inputting invoices,” he explained. “I have now moved into the team dealing with queries for transactional finance.”

Michael’s role involves requesting invoices, chasing debts and sending remittances as proof of payment. He said he wouldn’t have been able to settle into this new role if it hadn’t been for Microsoft Teams. “The screen sharing function on Microsoft Teams has been invaluable for training for my new job.”

He has also been able to continue his AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification virtually through video conferencing site Webex. Although the exams are cancelled, Michael has been able to do live learning classes.

Philip Rose became an admin apprentice on Shoredrift Ward at Hopewood Park after embarking on a career change.
He said: “My role involves working as a ward clerk, covering the day-to-day administrative tasks on the ward. I find this to be really rewarding and have received nothing but encouragement from the team.”

Despite his desire to continue working on the ward, Philip was sent to work from home turning his dining room into an office. After several weeks at home, he’s now back at work after jumping at an offer to come back in. Philip and other apprentices have been helping by packing scrubs to send to frontline staff.

“Being an apprentice can be hard work but every day is different and there are always new challenges,” he said. “Adapting old skills and learning new ones is extremely rewarding.”

Hannah Calder, a procurement apprentice, is also working from home. She said: “I’m doing my normal work from home so it doesn’t feel too different but it can be hard to concentrate sometimes.

“Some days are busier than others but on days when I’m not as busy I’m able to do my coursework.”

Annette Connor, Apprenticeships and Career Development Lead at CNTW, said: “This has been a difficult time for everyone and our apprentices have experienced a lot of disruption with their roles in recent months.

“We’re really proud of the way they have responded during the pandemic and have adapted to ensure the work still gets done to a high standard. They have been an asset to their teams in this difficult time.”

CNTW offers apprenticeships for anyone aged 16 and over. Find out more about the Trust’s apprenticeships here.