Sherwood Forest Hospitals celebrates Learning At Work Week

Ben WidowsonSherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating Learning at Work Week from 15 to 21 May by raising awareness of a range of apprenticeship opportunities for new and existing staff.

From April this year the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy came into effect, giving the trust the opportunity to invest £700,000 in its current workforce and to plan for its future workforce.

The levy will also be used by the trust to help attract and retain new talent by putting new staff through an apprenticeship training course as part of their employment offer.

Apprenticeships can be used to develop new workforce roles and help with succession planning by enabling the Trust to ‘grow’ their own talent for hard to recruit roles such as cardiac physiologists, who carry out heart tests and run patient heart clinics.

Staff will be able to find out more about how they can develop their careers and on the job apprenticeship opportunities available at the Trust by visiting an information stand at:

  • King’s Mill Hospital’s King’s Treatment Centre on Monday 15th, Wednesday 17th and Friday 19th, from 10am to 2pm, and Thursday 18th, from 10am to 1pm
  • Newark Hospital's main corridor on Tuesday 16th from 10am to 2pm

  • Mansfield Community Hospital’s reception on Thursday 18th, from 2 to 5pm.

Lee Radford, deputy director of training, education and organisational development said: “Apprenticeships are changing, they are not just for young people at the start of their careers, and not just for junior level roles. We have apprenticeships up to degree and Masters level. They are now replacing many traditional training programmes such as NVQs and diplomas and are an excellent way of maximising people’s potential.”

“I started my career as YTS apprentice and two years ago I also completed the Nye Bevan Management Course, an NHS-specific reflective leadership programme.”

One man who benefitted from an apprenticeship is 33-year-old Ben Widdowson (pictured), who worked his way up in the NHS from apprentice electrician to head of estates and facilities at Sherwood Forest Hospitals.

He started his career in the NHS after completing A levels at college. He joined an apprentice electricians programme at the former Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT) and gained a work-based NVQ level three in electrical engineering and went to college to study for a City and Guilds qualification in electrical installation and maintenance while working.

He was then appointed as the PCT maintenance electrician and while working in this role he studied for a BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Building Services Engineering, covering all disciplines. This enabled him to move up to his first management job as estates officer for the PCT, where he managed 20 staff.

His next career move was to the former NHS East Midlands on a year’s secondment as a project lead for estates and facilities apprenticeships, helping with succession planning. He started studying for a degree in building services engineering at Coventry University at the same time.

His first job in a hospital was as the estates engineering manager for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust where he stayed for three years before moving to Sherwood Forest Hospitals as senior estates manager, a role he did for nine months before moving into the head of estates and facilities role.

He was doing his masters degree in business administration when he got promoted to his current position. Finally last year he started a Nye Bevan Management Course, an NHS-specific reflective leadership programme which he is due to complete in September.

Ben says: “The NHS gives you opportunities to progress if you’re willing to work hard. I have had several incredibly supportive bosses who were great mentors and my current line manager is the same. They have helped me develop my career and expand my skills and experience.

“I’m committed to staying in the NHS and passing on the knowledge I’ve built up over the past 15 years working and studying. We have recently taken on an apprentice in the estates and facilities department but I encourage my whole team to learn and develop their own skills. My career path has really helped me connect personally with staff at all levels.”