From retail to radiotherapy and a successful career in STEM
Anthony Hall from Gloucester had worked in retail for seven years after leaving school, when he decided in his mid-twenties that he wanted to pursue a career in STEM.
He began studying the Level 3 Electrical Engineering course part-time at Gloucestershire College, alongside his day job, and did so well in his first year that he was offered the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship with the NHS. Despite believing that apprenticeships could be a struggle for older people with responsibilities, he took the plunge, was successful and is thankful that he did.
Anthony said: “Apprenticeships are incredible for younger people wanting to launch a career fresh from school, but for older people like myself, it’s a massive change in career, a potential sacrifice in pay and stretching work schedules, but ultimately the patience and hard work was worth it and, to be honest, it’s looking to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far. Being an apprentice taught me life skills such as budgeting, appreciation and the benefits of working hard to reach your goals.”
Anthony started his engineering maintenance apprenticeship in the Radiotherapy Department at Cheltenham General Hospital (NHS) and learnt a lot about what happens behind the scenes of a busy hospital, with regards to the maintenance of equipment across the sites.
He said: “I learned a lot about health and safety, patient confidentiality and a whole spectrum of equipment – I gained lots of experience across a wide variety of areas. My main job was to assist the team with servicing and breakdowns of equipment. After a year I was offered the opportunity to work in medical engineering, carrying our minor mechanical and electrical repairs.
“Once I completed my two-and-a-half-year apprenticeship – during which time my employer nominated me as Apprentice of the Year within the Trust – the department offered me a permanent job as a Trainee Medical Engineer.”
Anthony praised the support he received from GC throughout his apprenticeship: “It was great. My Training Coordinator and Engineering Lecturer were always on hand to advise and reassure me on the direction my work was taking. They would give me regular feedback and document my progression to ensure I was meeting my deadlines and that I completed my apprenticeship successfully and on time.”
In terms of transferable skills learnt during his apprenticeship, Anthony cites patience as key. He said: “I learnt the art of patience knowing that I wasn’t going to learn everything in a couple of days, and nobody expects you to. It takes years to learn your trade and even then you won’t know everything.
“Soldering was a totally new skill I learnt and health and safety was also a key one, particularly in the NHS. It was a massive learning curve and my course covered useful topics such as manual handling and P.P.E.”
On why he would recommend others consider an apprenticeship – whatever their age – Anthony said: “In two-and-a-half years, I’ve learned patience, life skills, engineering capabilities and team work, and gained wonderful friendships. Plus, you don’t get into crippling debt by going to university and any experience looks good on your CV to prospective employers. Go for it!”
If you’re looking to change your career, find out more about our apprenticeships and apply for live vacancies at www.gloscol.ac.uk/apprenticeships