National Apprenticeship Week aims to highlight the advantages that apprenticeships have on individuals, employers, and the economy. It is an opportunity to honour apprentices’ accomplishments and the contributions they offer to a range of professions and industries.

We caught up with our STEPS apprentices to see how their apprenticeships are going and helping them develop new skills to launch them into fulfilling careers.

Jess Renyard

Speech and Language Therapy

In January 2024, Jess started the MSc Speech and Language Therapy Apprenticeship. Throughout the apprenticeship, Jess will study part-time at Birmingham City University and learn about anatomy, psychology, linguistics, phonetics, and communication and swallowing difficulties. She will also learn how to apply theory to practice and how to assess an individual’s speech, language, communication and swallowing needs.

“The bulk of my learning will be spent 'on the job', working as a Speech and Language therapy assistant (SLTA) at STEPS. In my role as a SLTA, I work closely with STEPS' speech and language therapists (SLTs) to support the delivery of tailored interventions to a range of clients with communication and eating and drinking needs. The SLTs will be my mentors throughout the apprenticeship and support me through an array of work-based competencies to develop my knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be a qualified SLT.” 

Throughout the four-year course, Jess will also complete a range of practical placements in different settings, working with both adults and children to gain a wide breadth of experience.

“Annie, Jo, and Sarah from the SLT team at STEPS inspired me to apply for the course and were incredibly supportive throughout the application process. I feel very privileged that they will be my mentors/supervisors throughout my course. I'm excited to learn from the experts and share their knowledge.”

“STEPS has made it possible for me to take up this incredible opportunity and the therapy and management teams have put systems in place to help me manage my workload and wellbeing throughout the course. I am really looking forward to what the future holds!”

Jose Da Costa

Physiotherapy Apprenticeship

Jose is currently undertaking a Physiotherapy Apprenticeship at Sheffield Hallam University and continues his role as a Physiotherapy Assistant at STEPS. The 3-year long course has 5 placement blocks which will cover different areas of Physiotherapy. Learning also takes places on campus at Sheffield Hallam University through lectures, utilising specialist equipment and training rooms to develop skills further.

“This is a very practical course, which enables us to have a very hands-on experience. Splitting my time between university and working at STEPS is the best way for me to train as I will be able to apply the knowledge I have gained in university to my work at STEPS and develop my practical skills and clinical reasoning.”

On completion of the course, Jose will be a qualified Physiotherapist with established clinical skills. This will enable him to be able to diagnose problems, identify suitable treatment techniques.

“STEPS have given me the clinical experience I needed to apply for this course and made me realise I really want to be a Physiotherapist. STEPS have supported me to access this course and they will not only be funding my studies but will continue to pay me throughout my training. Learning this way will allow me to continue to learn from the STEPS Therapy team while I am studying.”

Kerrie Bingham

Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship

Kerrie is currently studying a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship Programme at Sheffield Hallam University. The course will take 2 and a half years to complete, followed by an endpoint assessment which will be completed within 6 months. Kerrie studies the course alongside full time employment, giving her the opportunity to combine her learning through practical and theory work.

“I feel very fortunate to have worked at STEPS for over 5 years now, starting as a Rehabilitation Assistant alongside a very supportive interdisciplinary team. This highly skilled team have helped to support me with my transition into the OT Team. I have been lucky enough to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help me with my journey on the OT apprenticeship programme through my experience at STEPS and working closely with a diverse range of cognitive and physical conditions. There is always someone to answer your questions and support with session planning, reflective practice and how to improve moving forward to strengthen your skills set.”

Kerrie is very grateful for the opportunities STEPS have given her.

“I love the team I am surrounded by at STEPS. This is one of the main reasons I have been able to develop my skills and grow in confidence, as I have been supported from the beginning to try and reach my full potential. My passion for psychology and working closely with trauma and brain injury has been a huge part of my driving force when continuing to pursue further education with the goal of qualifying as an occupational therapist. The people I have met at STEPS are so special, it has been wonderful to work closely with so many kind and caring people.”

Louis Maw

Nurse Associate Apprenticeship

Louis is currently studying a Nurse Associate Apprenticeship over the course of a 2-year period. The apprenticeship is based at STEPS, and this will be his base placement, however, Louis will also be doing alternative placements alongside this every few months.

“Whilst there’s a challenge ahead in managing the workload of the course alongside working full time hours, I am looking forward to meeting new people and gaining more knowledge, all whilst gaining a new set of skills.”

Louis plans to continue his studies after graduation to hopefully gain his general nurse qualification.

“STEPS have supported me with getting on to the course and by having regular meetings to see how I am getting on and are always there if I need any help. The whole of the STEPS nursing team has been so welcoming towards me and have accepted me with open arms!”

Scott Parkin

Diploma in Facilities Management

Despite juggling full-time work and family commitments, Scott managed to complete his Level 3 Diploma in Facilities Management last year. Scott completed this course in 18 months. This efficient completion, amidst a busy schedule, has not only bolstered his confidence but also affirmed his ability to manage multiple responsibilities effectively.

“Over the past year, STEPS has played a crucial role in my professional development. Their investment in my education and training, including the IOSH Managing Safely course, Mental Health First Aider training, and managerial coaching with Five & Co, has significantly enhanced my skills. Additionally, STEPS’ dedication to reinvesting in the building aligns with our shared goals of enhancing business continuity, a central focus of my role.”

As he looks forward to the year ahead, Scott is particularly excited about the prospect of applying his enhanced skills to upcoming projects.

“These projects not only present opportunities for practical application of my recent learning but also for contributing to innovative solutions and continuous improvements at STEPS. My focus will be on ensuring these initiatives align with our strategic goals and contribute positively to our work environment and client services.”

Zoe Johnson

Nurse Associate Apprenticeship

Zoe completed her Trainee Nurse associate apprenticeship in March 2023. Since then, Zoe has returned to working full-time at STEPS. She has also completed the external RESPECT course and will be 1 of 4 affiliates training other members of our team.

Zoe undertook a two-year Trainee Nurse Associate Foundation Degree at the University of Sheffield, becoming the first ever STEPS Trainee Nurse Associate. The course was split into work-based and alternative learning. This involves studying nursing at the university alongside her work at STEPS. Now graduated Zoe is looking to expand her nursing knowledge further.

“I am looking forward to doing the Nursing Top-Up course at Sheffield University to transition from Nurse Associate to General Nurse. With the wide range of clients, we have at STEPS, it has been a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge in many different conditions.”

“STEPS have been very supportive, not only during my course but afterwards. Learning opportunities are always encouraged, and I’ve had the opportunity to nurse clients in all areas of nursing.”

Read about Zoe’s apprenticeship journey here.