West Midlands lab handed top apprentice award - The Solihull Observer

West Midlands lab handed top apprentice award

Solihull Editorial 25th May, 2024   0

CELEBRATIONS are in order after a genetics laboratory has been handed a top award.

The West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory (WMRGL), based at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded Employer of the Year by CSR Scientific Training for their outstanding work on apprenticeships.

The award, give National Apprenticeships week, celebrates the laboratory’s commitment to apprenticeships.

The awarding body noted the laboratory’s particular commitment to trainees and ongoing plans to embed the apprenticeship programme into the wider department.

The programme was recognised for its commitment to inclusivity as well as its academic and pastoral support, and was overall stated to be “head and shoulders above the rest”.

The WMRGL has a dedicated education and training team which looks after a range of healthcare science training programmes from Level 4 apprenticeship through to PhD level consultant.

Together with the education and training lead, Sarah Clinton, the programme was set up by senior training manager, Karen Cooke in 2020.

The programme employs a significant number of people, with the highest number of life sciences apprentices of any NHS organisation including Mollie, 24, and Beth, 23 who are apprentices at the Lab.

Mollie said: “I could not be more supported. Our apprenticeship leads, Karen and Michelle Owen, are amazing – they care about both your physical and mental health.

“They knew about my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from when I started working at the lab and have been really helpful. I struggled with balancing work and study in my apprenticeship, but they helped me to approach my tutor and find a better balance.”

Mollie began working in the lab as an intern in January 2023. After six months in this role, she successfully applied for the apprenticeship programme and began in September 2023. She was drawn to genetics specifically due to having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, an inherited disorder affecting connective tissue.

Beth worked in a number of healthcare settings before securing her apprenticeship at the lab, having worked in roles in a mental health crisis home and within a pharmacy. The pharmacy role increased her interest in the laboratory side of healthcare, and she is thriving in her role at the lab.

Both Mollie and Beth intend to stay in the NHS moving forward.

Mollie said: “We see it as the beginning of a pathway within the NHS. I’m not sure where I want to be yet, but working in different areas gives us exposure to lots of different options.”

The apprenticeship programme continues to grow, with its next cohort planned to start in late 2024. With apprenticeships in the NHS offering routes into over 350 careers.

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