A young woman from Swansea who was inspired by the pandemic to begin a career in the NHS is encouraging others to consider apprenticeships as a route into work.
Sophie Morgan-Key, 24, has recently completed her Level 3 apprenticeship at Swansea Bay University Health Board, and is now working as a full-time lab assistant, helping process samples for high-risk patients with cancer and other underlying health conditions.
Having previously worked in an administrative role for an airline company, Sophie decided she needed a career change and says COVID encouraged her to join the NHS during a time it most needed support.
She said: “I knew I wanted to do something different, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere in my previous job and when the pandemic started, I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore how I could be a part of something bigger, make a difference and expand my horizons.
“The pandemic inspired me to start an apprenticeship with the NHS and now, instead of being stuck in a job I don’t enjoy, I feel like I have a fantastic career path full of options ahead of me.
“When I think back to school, I always enjoyed science and I was such a hands-on learner so when a friend mentioned an apprenticeship could be my way into a new career, I immediately got excited by the opportunities available to me.”
Sophie’s apprenticeship saw her assist with processing biopsy samples for cancer and high-risk patients as well as working closely alongside pathologists in their practical examinations of the samples themselves.
Since completing her apprenticeship, Sophie has applied to university to study biomedical science while she continues to work part-time in the laboratory, meaning she could one day become one of the scientists she currently assists.
Sophie added: “Throughout my time as an apprentice, everyone I worked with was so encouraging and supportive of me. They always had time to answer my questions and help me with my training modules and encourage me further in my studies.
“Without their mentoring and support, I would never have applied to university or thought I’d be able to manage balancing work, study, and my home life, but I’ve been inspired by the opportunities my apprenticeship gave me to go further.
“I hope that one day I’m able to be a mentor to other apprentices and that I can become a pathologist or biomedical scientist myself and be a role model to others thinking about joining the NHS through an apprenticeship.”
Sophie also has a three-year-old daughter who she hopes she has inspired by her choice to change careers at a young age.
She continued: “I think it’s really important to know that it’s okay to change your mind about the sort of career you want because it means you can explore your passion and find something that will suit you.
“I hope that one day my little girl will be proud that I decided to join the NHS during the pandemic, it was the best career decision I’ve ever made and now I can truly say I have so many opportunities ahead of me and I’m doing something I love.”
The Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 apprenticeship places over the next five years.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people of all ages who are looking for their next career challenge to gain job specific skills whilst learning from industry professionals. This is one reason why we have invested a further £18.7 million which will be essential in supporting employers to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people.
“There’s a diverse range of apprenticeship opportunities currently available in Wales, from healthcare and construction to digital technology and engineering. Individuals should look at the Apprenticeships Vacancy Service to see what the beginning of their future could be.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
To explore what apprenticeship opportunities are currently available in Wales, visit the Apprenticeships Vacancy Service.
For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit www.gov.wales/apprenticeshipswales or call 0800 028 4844.