An apprentice scheme at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust is finding work for unemployed people under 25, with high success rates paving the way for the model to be rolled out elsewhere

Engineering tools

Apprentices at the trust are gaining experience in areas including cardiology, engineering, midwifery, pharmacy and paediatrics


Currently 380,000 Londoners are unemployed − and a third of them are under 25. At a time when the government’s aim is to get 75,000 more adults into apprenticeships by 2015, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust is offering work experience, apprenticeships and employment opportunities for local people − and it’s working.

‘Seventy per cent of young people who completed the programme at the trust found work or entered further education within six months’

Over the past 18 months, the trust has helped more than 350 young people into employment. There are 60 apprentices gaining the hands-on experience they need to get hired in areas including business administration, cardiology, engineering, midwifery, pharmacy, paediatrics and sterile services.

The trust’s apprenticeships and work experience programmes are running at an 85 per cent successful completion rate, with 90 per cent of young people going on to jobs within the trust, professional training or employment within other organisations.

Case study

Joseph Banton, 22, completed a one year apprenticeship and now works full time as an assistant team leader in the rapid response team, which involves supervising the team that deep cleans and decontaminates hospital equipment.

After leaving school with one GCSE and a BTEC in sports science, Joseph found it hard to juggle part-time construction work with his studies. His apprenticeship has helped him find his career and to provide for his young daughter.

Joseph’s manager Aidan Cleasby says: “Having somebody like Joseph, who is so enthusiastic to learn, means we have somebody joining the team with the knowledge and experience needed to not only do the job, but also deliver the best in that job.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is the only healthcare provider working with the Prince’s Trust on its “Get into” work placement and short courses scheme. This seeks to inspire people aged 16-25 to find work in the health sector in areas such as catering and customer service. The results are promising: 70 per cent of young people who completed their programme at the trust found work or entered further education within six months.

Making an impact

Since the introduction of apprenticeships and work experience programmes, staff turnover in pay bands 1-4 has reduced significantly. These programmes give staff who are not team leaders or supervisors the opportunity to gain experience of managing others and encourages teams to work together to show an apprentice various aspects of the role.

In the last year, Guy’s and St Thomas’ has increased the recruitment of non-clinical apprentices to 40 posts. Previously apprenticeship programmes have focused on developing internal staff but managers now recognise the benefits of using the apprenticeship route to recruit and develop new staff. 

Harlene Dandy-Hughes, education and training development manager at the trust, says: “I’m thrilled we’re helping so many people to find their way into work. Skills minister Mathew Hancock believes this type of training for the unemployed should be applied everywhere in the UK and we are now being approached by the local education board to advise other NHS trusts on how to deliver these schemes in their areas.”

In the last year, the Essentia team that provide the trust’s facilities, estates, IT and capital services have established the Essentia Academy to train people in non-clinical roles such as catering and hospitality. Apprentices on this scheme achieve an NVQ in healthcare support services, while they find the right career for them. 

Measuring success

To maintain a motivated workforce, quarterly meetings are held with programme leads, apprentices and their managers to monitor progress and learn lessons that can be shared across the trust.

To improve completion rates of the hospitality apprenticeships the trust has introduced a “boot camp” exercise for potential apprentices to follow for two weeks, to see if they like it and have the skills to fully apply themselves before they start.

How to deliver successful apprenticeships

  • Provide a comprehensive induction to give them the background information on the organisation before starting their role.
  • Have a named point of contact and a buddy to support people during their apprenticeship/work placement.
  • Develop a service level agreement detailing the expectations, roles and responsibilities.
  • Work with apprentice training agencies on the recruitment and selection of your apprentices.
  • Ask your local National Apprentice Service employer account manager to support you.

Aimee Aldersley is senior communications projects officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust