A 24-year-old health and social support worker is encouraging pupils at her former secondary school to consider apprenticeships as a route to their chosen career.
Megan Hession, from Cardiff, attended Whitchurch High School in the city before going to university in Coventry to study business and event management. When she graduated in 2014 she moved back to Cardiff and planned to pursue a career in corporate events.
While looking for a graduate job she went to work part-time at health and social care provider Montana Healthcare. But while working there she found out about its apprenticeship programme and decided to forge a career in the health and social care sector instead.
Megan has now worked her way up to managerial level, thanks to the apprenticeship scheme, and hopes her story will show pupils at Whitchurch High School that apprenticeships can be key to career success.
She says: “I completed my level 3 apprenticeship in Health and Social Care in 2015, my level 5 Leadership and Management for Health and Social Care Services in May 2017 and my advance practice in September 2017. I’m now looking at progressing on to Level 7 Diploma in Health and Social Care Management. I started as a support worker at Montana Healthcare but I’ve been promoted three times while at Montana Healthcare and I’m now a team manager, managing over 20 members of staff.
“I cover two supported living properties – one in Bargoed, in the Rhymney Valley, and one in Caerphilly. One property has five residents and the second has three. The supported living properties cater for people with a variety of needs. So we support people living with brain injuries, learning disabilities, physical injuries, autism, people who’ve had a stroke or a heart attack, for example. Montana Healthcare also offers care to people living in their own homes too.
“Some people think health and social care and supported living is just about personal care. But it’s so much more than that. Our aim is to empower the individual and promote their wellbeing and support them to do things for themselves. If they’re unable to make a dinner for themselves, for example, we would get them involved with a small task such as peeling potatoes so they feel valued in the process.
“I manage the two properties and the teams who provide the support. I grew from being a support worker to manager so I’ve done the work that the staff I manage do now. It can be hard work but it’s a very rewarding job. Sometimes you go home and think ‘I’ve changed someone’s life today’, and that’s just from doing the small things that we take for granted.”
Megan says the is a job is a rewarding one, and she is motivated by helping people do the small things that we take for granted.
“There are three other managers who are over thirty, so I’m the youngest manager here. We have a number of younger people working here and they’re so positive about their jobs, it’s brilliant to see. And for young people coming into the job I think it’s good for them to see young people in management roles and see that it’s achievable.
“I think these apprenticeship school visits are good as it helps teenagers know that apprenticeships aren’t just about bricklaying, being an electrician and that sort of thing. I spoke to my friend’s son who is in year nine about what he wanted to do in future. He wasn’t aware of apprenticeships and all the various industries you can do them in, so it was good to be able to talk it through with him.”
Karen Rowley, HR and training manager at Montana Healthcare said: “Megan started with us as a volunteer at 16 and she’s now managing a team of her own. We’re so proud of her development and that she’s taking the time to inspire others to consider the apprenticeship route.
“We have about 10 apprentices at any one time. For us it’s a viable business choice and it ensures we’re up today with the bespoke skills needed for our business.”
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan, said: “Megan is a perfect example of how apprenticeships can transform lives, helping people into careers. Apprenticeships highlight the importance of gaining practical, on the job experience that provides people with the skills and qualifications they need to build a rewarding career.
“Apprenticeships play an important role in increasing Wales’ overall skill set and driving economic growth, making sure that the nation remains competitive on the world stage. Apprenticeships are a worthwhile investment for employers who can train their workforce in the specialist skills they need to sustain and grow their businesses.
“National Apprenticeship Week is an important celebration of the fantastic opportunities apprenticeships offer to individuals as well as businesses across Wales. “For individuals, apprenticeships can be a route to an exciting and fulfilling future career. Through apprenticeships, companies are helping to keep vital skills and industries alive and drive economic growth in Wales.
“Although we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week every spring, the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme runs throughout the year to highlight the opportunities and support available for both apprentices and the employers who take them on.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
For more information about becoming an apprentice, please visit www.careerswales.com or call 0800 0284844, log on to www.facebook.com/apprenticeshipscymru ,@apprenticewales on Twitter and follow the story using the hashtag #AWWales.