Former apprentice, Connor Massey is using his experience as a learner to help over 100 North East youngsters achieve apprenticeship success and permanent employment with a local NHS Trust.
The 23-year-old from Newcastle, has put his skills and knowledge into practice to forge a career as the first, and only, progression coach and mentor for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) Training Academy.
The first-of-its-kind role for the department sees Connor working with both the training provider and employer that helped him through his second apprenticeship.
In 2013, while studying for a Level 3 (Advanced) Apprenticeship in Business Administration through North East training provider, Rove Consultancy, Connor, having already undertaken a Level 2 Sport and Fitness Apprenticeship, secured his first job with NTW just three months into the course.
Starting as a business admin assistant at St Nicholas Hospital, in Gosforth where he was completing his apprenticeship, Connor quickly advanced within his role, taking on the additional responsibility of mentoring his fellow apprentices.
The following year, after finishing his studies, the former Gosforth High School pupil was offered a new full-time mentoring position with NTW – working within the same department where he had completed his own apprenticeship.
Vocational training and development manager at the NTW Training Academy, Annette Connor said: “I had been looking at ways to provide workplace-based support for our apprentices, while ensuring good working practices were always met, but independent to the assessment process. As most apprentices are younger people, I felt it was important to have someone that they could not only relate to, but who had also recently been through an apprenticeship themselves.
“Connor was the ideal candidate for our new mentor position and has proved to be a strong addition to our team. He builds a great rapport with both learners and their managers and his ability to relate to learners’ challenges is incredibly valuable as he understands what it’s like to balance a full-time job with study. From running school events and interviewing new apprentices, to delivering pastoral care, he has a great attitude and aptitude.”
As well as supporting the 100 plus NTW apprentices through their apprenticeships, Connor has been recruited onto the North East Young Apprentice Ambassador Network (NEYAAN) – an elite team of regional apprenticeship advocates.
Established by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the NEYAAN aims to increase apprenticeship awareness and take-up by championing the benefits and opportunities to employers and schools.
Young apprentices, like Connor have been invited to be part of the NEYANN, after being recommended by their employer as a role model for future apprentices and demonstrating a high commitment to apprenticeships at their place of work.
With activities including participating in school events and careers fairs across the region, the ambassador role mirrors Connor’s mentor position, in which he oversees young learners spanning from Northumberland to Tyne and Wear.
Connor said: “What I love most about my job is seeing the progression of an apprentice. As part of my role, I regularly visit learners in the workplace to encourage and motivate them, make sure they’re on track by liaising between their managers and Rove, and supporting them in the areas where they might need extra help.
“I didn’t have a mentor for my first apprenticeship, so I can appreciate how valuable it is to have someone on-hand that has been there themselves. I’ve personally experienced what the learners are going through, and can offer a perspective as an apprentice, at the same employer, and the same training provider, which means I can really get on their level.”
A firm believer in the value of apprenticeships, Connor is planning to make it a hat-trick by pursuing a Higher Apprenticeship, equivalent to a Foundation degree. He added: “I didn’t want to go to college full-time as I wanted to get started in a career and knew apprenticeships are the best way to get employment and training.
“Through my role in the vocational training team, I plan to keep improving our apprenticeship scheme and supporting more NTW apprentices into permanent roles across healthcare, business admin, estates and IT.”
Jacky Wilson, director at Rove Consultancy said: “Rove Consultancy has supported delivery of apprenticeships for NTW for almost a decade, and we strongly believe that the key to effective learner support and achievement is partnership working with the employers.
“Connor’s role is invaluable to this philosophy. As the only progression coach and mentor for the Training Academy, he is the person that connects with the learners in their workplace and can provide support when they need it, ensuring Rove continues to deliver an above average success rate.”
Rove Consultancy is a member of North East Learning Providers (NELP), a non-profit network of local training providers, colleges, employers, local authorities and voluntary organisations that operate within Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside, which aims to promote, represent and support its members and the training sector as a whole.
NELP works closely with the training sector’s funding bodies including the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service. Its members deliver vocational training for hundreds of employers and thousands of learners throughout the region.
For more information about NELP and how to join, visit www.nelp.co.uk.