Principal Pharmacy Technician, Operations and Training Manager
It’s a privilege to be the Pharmacy Apprentice Manager. To be able to witness someone take their first tentative steps into the working world to then emerge as a confident member of the workforce is a fantastic experience. The premise of apprenticeship style learning is not a new concept for Pharmacy.
Traditionally training in the workplace alongside formal education at college has been long adopted by the technical workforce. The most famous Pharmacy Technician to date being Agatha Christie. The role of Pharmacy professionals has vastly changed since she trained, the aim is still to supply the patient with medicines but it’s how this is done that has diversified. Extending the apprenticeships that Pharmacy offer seemed the natural next step.
Currently we support Business, customer service and Pharmacy services level 2 apprenticeships, in addition to the new Pharmacy technician diploma. Once qualified as a Pharmacy Technician you become a registered professional with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
The biggest challenge a Pharmacy Apprentice manager encounters is ensuring that the work placement mirrors the underpinning knowledge being taught at college. Currently there are 7 apprentices in Pharmacy and with students learning at rates it is vital as a manager to be in tune with the apprentices to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. During the last 12 months this challenge has been amplified but out of challenges come opportunities. The apprentices have witnessed in Pharmacy how services have been adapted to respond to new service demands. They have learnt that adaptability is the key to the future success of the NHS and that they are that future.
Resourcing Team Manager
My name is Andrea Lester and I am the Recruitment Manager for the Trust. The Recruitment Team manage all recruitment activities for the whole Trust including recruitment to the Trust Staff Bank. We advertise all the job vacancies on the Trust website and NHS Jobs, support managers with their shortlisting, carry out all the employment checks and issue contracts of employment. Since the apprenticeship scheme came into the Trust, I have had 5 apprentices come through the Recruitment Team, of which all but one is still working for the trust in various capacities.
The apprentices in my team have all successfully completed an NVQ Level 3 in Business Administration.
I have found managing apprentices to be a really positive experience as you feel that you are helping a young person into paid employment where they are both learning work skills alongside gaining a qualification. I have also had more mature apprentices in my team who used the apprenticeship scheme as a stepping stone to change their career path and get into the NHS which they could not have done without the scheme, due to not having the right qualifications or previous NHS experience so often required in the NHS.
The biggest challenge of managing an apprentice I found was ensuring that they are given adequate off the job time to study and complete their apprenticeship work. The NHS is a very busy work environment and often work tasks take over and study time becomes difficult to identify.
During their time with me, the apprentices not only learnt valuable work based skills, but also learnt a lot about building working relationships and interpersonal relationships with colleagues within their own team and also across the wider trust, due to the Trust wide role that the recruitment team plays. These external links proved valuable in them moving into other roles across the Trust.
I also learnt the valuable role I can play in supporting an apprenticeship by mentoring and coaching them to build confidence and teamwork skills. I was also able to impart my experience and knowledge of working in the NHS for many years and how the NHS offers a solid career pathway. I believe this encouraged the apprentices to stay with the Dudley Group or the wider NHS after their apprenticeship with me ended.
I would thoroughly recommend any manager to take an apprentice into their teams as the rewards outweigh the effort that you need to put in.