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Simon is boosting his NHS career skills with an apprenticeship

From the factory floor to the hospital ward one Plymouth man has turned his life around.

48-year-old Simon Raymont admits he didn’t do well at school. He was in and out of hospital with his asthma and his studies took a hit.

Now the father of one is studying an Assistant Practitioner Foundation degree apprenticeship at University Centre South Devon (UCSD), part of South Devon College, and is enjoying the challenge.

“I left school, spent a few years working in factories before becoming a care assistant for a private ambulance company. However it was a zero-hours contract and as the hours got less I knew I had to find something else.”

Simon, whose mum was a nurse for 50 years, then decided to apply to Derriford Hospital to be a healthcare assistant. He’s worked on the Planned Investigation Unit now for 17 years and after doing various qualifications he decided to do an apprenticeship to help boost his career.

UCSD has seen a large increase in the number of people who have signed up for the Assistant Practitioner Foundation degree apprenticeship.

“We’ve seen a 403% increase in the last year,” said Lucy Parkin, Head of Curriculum for Health and Care at UCSD. “This is due to the role being more in demand and the fact that it opens up a lot of career opportunities with pathways including Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Theatres, ICU, A&E, Care of the Elderly, Speech and Language, Podiatry among many more.

“It’s a direct route to work in the NHS or other health or care organisations and is essential to the future development of the sector.”

Simon admits that working and studying can be hard at times.

“It can be a challenge and sometimes you think how am I going to get this done but you do. It is harder as you get older as learning styles are different.”

But Simon’s advice to anyone considering doing an apprenticeship is to not doubt yourself.

“You have the knowledge and everyone at UCSD is very supportive.”

Simon’s apprenticeship is just one of many available at UCSD and South Devon College. Apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships are available across many sectors, including the more well-known such as bricklayer and beauty therapist, but there are more surprising ones available too like nursing associate, sea fisher, paralegal or chartered manager.

South Devon College is marking the annual National Apprenticeship Week (Feb 5–11) with a series of events including a virtual school assembly and an apprentice breakfast.

This year is the 17th annual National Apprenticeship Week. Its theme of Skills for Life highlights how apprenticeships can help people develop the skills and knowledge they need for a rewarding career and develop a talented workforce that is equipped with skills for the future.

Simon admits he loves a challenge and hasn’t ruled out taking more qualifications in the future.

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