CIWM’s Qualifications and Standards Executive, Michelle Duffy, caught up with Louise Carson to find out what it’s like to undertake a safety health and environment (SHE) technician (Level 3) apprenticeship. Keep reading to learn what their biggest challenges were, their overall experience of the apprenticeship, and how they feel the apprenticeship has given them a career, not just a job.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m 40 years old and when I started the apprenticeship, I was in an established role working in administration within the Health and Safety Department for the NHS.
What is a SHE Technician?
A Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Technician works with management and delivery teams to advise on statutory health, safety, and environmental requirements. It’s a varied role with time spent in the office and working on-site providing advice to others on how to work safely.
What was your background before becoming an apprentice?
I have been working within the NHS since I was 18 years old, starting in payroll and then moving to non-clinical and health and safety for waste. I did that for many years and was then made redundant but after a 3-year break, I was invited to come back to the NHS. I initially went back to administration and then decided to do the NVQ in Business Administration. However, I was getting more responsibilities in health and safety which I really enjoyed, and it was at this point that I started re-evaluating where I wanted my career to go. Did I want a management position or to stay with the health and safety department?
Health and safety is exactly where I decided to stay!
The environment that I worked in was the perfect place, and I had many colleagues who could support, guide and help me. The NHS Trust received funding from the Government for the SHE apprenticeship and this was an opportunity for me to enhance my career and knowledge. I became a “converter apprentice” (named by trust) which in summary means that the person is already employed but matched to an apprenticeship that is suitable to their role.
What was your overall experience as an Apprentice?
I absolutely love my job and the SHE apprenticeship was the best thing I ever did. The apprenticeship means I now have the status of Tech IOSH and must keep up with professional standards and complete continuing professional development (CPD) to show I am up to date with processes. Thanks to the apprenticeship, I have moved from student to Tech IOSH demonstrating that I am experienced as well as qualified. This credibility is really important.
Did you face any challenges completing the apprenticeship?
I had not studied for exams since my GCSEs!
I enjoyed learning but really had to work at it, so I feel I deserve the recognition that comes with completing an apprenticeship. It was certainly harder to learn whilst working full time and with family to consider. The studying did eat into my personal time, but I could see the long-term benefit and persevered. My employer was also fantastic and supportive by allowing me to work from home on a Friday which effectively became a study day.
I found understanding the language used in the educational environment a challenge. I had to research what a lot of the words used in the standard meant, but my confidence built up over time and then I felt able to ask for clarification.
How did you feel about the CIWM End-Point Assessment?
I felt the invigilators and assessor from CIWM were professional but friendly and really put me at ease at the point of coming to take the assessments.
How have you benefitted from this apprenticeship?
I would like others to know that because of this apprenticeship, I now have a career and not just a job!
I achieved a distinction in the apprenticeship, and I am so proud to have achieved this. I had to put myself completely out of my comfort zone. I am now doing something I absolutely love, and it has increased my confidence from very little to soaring.
Finally, what advice would you give others considering an Apprenticeship?
My advice to others is simply to give it a go and don’t worry about “am I too old for this?” It’s the best thing I have done. I am now looking at achieving a diploma and feel it has opened doors for me.
Discover more information about the apprenticeship standards CIWM provides end-point assessment for, visit https://ciwmquals.co.uk/apprenticeships/ today.