There’s no right way to study at Salford and the undergraduate or postgraduate pathway isn‘t for everyone. Whether you’re concerned about your finances or would prefer to blend study with practical training, an apprenticeship could be for you. Our alternative route to getting a university degree gives you the opportunity to receive on-the-job training from industry professionals and earn a salary while you study so you leave uni completely debt free.

Who better to tell you about apprenticeships than our current apprentices themselves? As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we chatted to three Salford apprentices about their experiences of learning and working in the healthcare sector and construction industry.

Jas, Building Surveying BSc (Hons)

Meet Jas, a Building Surveying apprentice who works for (in her own words – the most amazing company) Jonathan Cornes Associates in Newcastle Under Lyme. Originally from the small market town of Oswestry in Shropshire, Jas started her apprenticeship in Manchester when she was 18 to follow her passion for property.

Portrait photo of Jas. a Building Surveying apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

During my A-levels, I realised that a full-time university course wasn’t something I was interested in. I excel when I am in a working environment rather than an academic setting. I also wanted to start a career and, in my opinion, an apprenticeship was the best option.

I have always had a interest in property, but it was during COVID that my interest grew as I would help my dad do quite a lot of DIY projects around the house, knocking walls down etc. It was my dad’s best friend who owns a building company that introduced me to building surveying – I had no idea what it involved. After an evening spent researching and finding out what a building surveyor is, I knew this was for me.

How has your experience as an apprentice helped you to develop?

Since starting, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions but one of the most rewarding experiences where I have watched myself grow as a person. It’s given me a mountain of resilience, confidence as a woman in a male dominant industry, attention to detail and most of all, patience.

In an apprenticeship, you don’t know everything at first and that can be frustrating, but you have to step back and recoup as you are learning – you won’t know everything to start but you’ll get there. Plus, my dad has big dreams about that he wants to do with their house in the future so it’s nice to know I’ll be able to bring some of those to life!

Jas sat on a doorstep, writing in a notebook and giving a thumbs up to the camera

Would you recommend an apprenticeship?

100%! Not only because you are being paid and don’t incur any debt at the end of the degree, but because you mature as a person and it sets you up for life. My apprenticeship is only the first step. From here my plan is to become Chartered, set up my own surveying business and work towards passing the fellowship; it’s the most prestigious qualification you can get within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and an international mark of distinction.

Holly, Physiotherapy BSc (Hons)

Holly, a Physiotherapy apprentice at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, has a passion for helping people achieve active and healthy lives. Having worked as a personal trainer and in roles across the healthcare sector, including in a forensic mental health unit and therapeutic led discharge service, Holly has a deep appreciation for the connection between our physical movement and overall wellbeing that she is now putting into practice.

Selfie of Holly, a Physiotherapy apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

The physiotherapy apprenticeship was the perfect fit for me. As a hands-on learner, I thrive in environments where theory and practice seamlessly blend. The programme integrates university studies with real-world experience, letting me develop practical skills and solidify my learning through immediate application. Equally important, my employer’s generous funding eliminates the financial pressures associated with being a mature student, allowing me to fully focus on my studies without any additional anxieties. Plus, the glowing feedback I received from physiotherapists who trained at the University of Salford made me feel confident about my own journey.

How have you found your experience of being an apprentice?  

I’m thoroughly enjoying it! The lecturers are not only extremely knowledgeable, but also incredibly approachable and supportive. Balancing study and work can be challenging at times, but I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic team around me. In particular, my apprentice learning and development coach has been an absolute star who’s always positive and available to guide me through the process. Also, my apprentice mentor is always willing to share his knowledge and experience to help me grow as a physiotherapist. I feel truly supported and excited for the journey ahead, while already being awestruck by how far I’ve come. My understanding, skills and confidence is shaping me into a better clinician and advocate for patients.

Even as an apprentice, I’ve had experiences I’m immensely proud of, like detecting a bilateral pulmonary embolism in a patient. This life-threatening condition, if undetected, could have had dire consequences. As the first clinician to identify it, my direct actions played a crucial role in saving her life. Witnessing her full recovery over the past six months, with pictures of her playing with her grandchildren in the park, is a constant reminder of the power we wield as physiotherapists.

Holly with her arm around a former patient
Holly in practice, examining a patient's leg

Would you recommend an apprenticeship?

Yes! As a mature student, returning to education presented me with financial hurdles. The physiotherapy apprenticeship was a game-changer. Having my training funded by my employer removed a significant burden, allowing me to focus fully on my studies and clinical placements without the stress of student loans or compromising my financial stability. You meet like-minded individuals along the way and make great friends, who will become great allies and revision buddies!  The supportive network within the physiotherapy apprenticeship was a key factor in my choice. Having dedicated apprentice learning and development coaches has been invaluable and their guidance, patience, and willingness to share their knowledge has been instrumental in my growth as a physiotherapist. Knowing I have such a supportive team behind me gives me the confidence to tackle any challenge, navigate complex cases and ultimately, make a positive impact on patients’ lives. 

Yomi, Nursing Associate FdSc

Yomi came to the UK almost 20 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria and is currently in his final year of the Trainee Nursing Associate apprenticeship programme and working with Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust at Salford Royal. Juggling work in the critical care unit, studies and family life, as well as supporting his cohort as a student representative, hasn’t always been easy but Yomi is looking forward to qualifying as a Registered Nursing Associate by April 2024.

Yomi smiling while talking on the phone

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I applied for the Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) apprenticeship to develop myself and also contribute to patients getting better and having a good experience under our care. There’s a good balance of work and study on the programme. It’s very practically engaging and an incredible opportunity to learn new skills and earn at the same time.

How have you found your experience of being an apprentice?  

The experience has been wonderful and has really boosted my confidence in practice – my only regret is not starting the programme earlier! The support and passion of the entire team is outstanding. That being said, I have come across a few obstacles within the last two years. I work on the Critical Care Unit and that can be challenging considering the fact that I’m still a student and the breadth and depth of knowledge required on the unit is enormous. Plus, as a family man I look after my kids, help them with homework, cook, clean, do laundry, attend parents’ evenings and also do school runs. I work full time and attend University as well. All this can be overwhelming sometimes but I believe if I keep pushing, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

I almost pulled out of the course in the middle of my first year due to my partner’s health issues. My partner was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before I started the course so, while they were undergoing chemotherapy, I looked after the children alongside work, uni, attending compulsory trainings, and carrying on as a student rep. I considered pulling out but I believe nothing good comes easy and dreams only come true if we have the courage to pursue them. I decided to remain strong, not only for myself, but for my children and partner as well. Keeping my dream alive has helped me get this far.

Yomi pushing a medical trolley

What are your plans for the future?

I secured a contract for the position of Registered Nursing Associate with the Critical Care Unit at Salford Care Organization that will take effect on completion of my training. I’m very happy to have achieved this in Module 4. In fact, it’s my proudest achievement to date. It has been a great motivation for me to keep working hard and shows that I am being recognized for my contributions to safe and effective patient care. My plan is to continue studying a top-up degree in adult nursing, either self-funded or through the apprenticeship pathway.

Thank you to our apprentices for sharing their experiences with us! We’re so proud of our student apprentices who are already making a huge impact in the workplace and our wider community, even before they graduate. If you’re tempted to combine work with study and want to learn more about apprenticeships, the subject areas we offer or how to apply, head to our website.