From education to employment

Health Board employee gains essential IT skills with the help of an apprenticeship

David Chaffey at computer desk

A common misconception of work-based learning and apprenticeships is that they can only be undertaken by people coming into a role for the first time. There is also the myth that apprenticeships are only available in certain manual sectors. These are far from the truth.

Apprenticeships are a great way to upskill existing members of staff at all levels of seniority within a business. Subjects range from social media and finance to customer service and management, meaning that no matter what industry you’re in you will find a topic to interest and benefit you.

A perfect example of the diversity of work-based learning is David Chaffey’s apprenticeship journey. David is a Switchboard Operator at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, he is the first point of contact for the telecommunication service at the board.

His role involves providing a fast, friendly and efficient service to fellow employees, members of the general public and other partner organisations.

A keen learner, David undertook the Level 3 IT Users qualification (now Digital Skills for Business) to boost his proficiency in the tools he used each day, although it wasn’t without its challenges.

David is visually impaired and uses a JAWS screen reader to help complete tasks.

David explained:

“I wanted to have a better understanding of Office 365 and how I could use it to maximise whatever work I am doing, alongside my screen reader,”

And it wasn’t long before he was able to transfer the skills developed within the qualification to everyday role.

He said:

“The course gave me the confidence, skills and knowledge to be able to use Office 365 in a whole new way.

“Prior to it I used Outlook and Word, but that was about it. Since undertaking the course, I am happy to use the entirety of the Office suite which has not only benefitted me in my current role but has enabled me to maximise it in my secondment role as a Disability Inclusion Officer.”

One of the advantages to an apprenticeship is that the course is flexible and can be completed parallel to your role, complimenting your work.

David said:

“This style of learning suited me as I could work, but still learn and develop my skills and knowledge, applying it to my work environment and gaining real life experience,”

If learners have additional needs that must be considered while they are working towards their qualification, ACT can make changes or adaptions. In David’s case, he had a reader and writer to help him with the completion of coursework.

“I have received excellent support throughout the course,” David said. “I will admit I nearly didn’t finish it but luckily with the support that I received from the tutors and the reader and writer, I have now achieved this goal and I must admit it is the best feeling.”

Learners looking to undertake a work-based apprenticeship may need to complete Essential Skills – a set of qualifications to ensure the learner has a solid foundation in maths, communication and digital literacy. Not only did David complete his IT course, he also achieved his Essential Skills boosting his confidence and employability skills.

David’s tutor at ACT, Caitlin Edmonds, said:

“David has excelled in his courses, particularly in the speaking and listening tasks. Something that stuck with me was his confidence in his presentation explaining how he has been helping to revamp and train others in the health board to ensure that each visually impaired person has the little things in place for them when arriving at the hospital.

“David had a calm and confident approach to learning and never let his disability get in his way. Every time he completed a qualification, he reflected on how well he had done, how much he had learnt and overcome to achieve his goal.”


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