Meet Our Apprentices: Beverley, Darren, and Helen tell their story

Here at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), we encourage colleagues to explore opportunities to develop themselves and their career within the business.

As part of this, we offer a wide range of apprenticeships – from Business and Administration to Facilities Management; Customer Service to Finance; and also digital and technology.

This National Apprenticeship Week, we are really proud to shine the spotlight on our apprentices and their contribution to our NHSBSA.

In the last 12 months, 64 of our colleagues have either started an apprenticeship qualification or continued to progress towards achieving their qualification.

We caught up with three of our colleagues who have successfully completed their qualifications. Let’s meet our apprentices:

  • Accountancy Technician, Beverley Platten
  • Security & Information Risk Advisor, Darren Howe
  • Data Visualisation Developer, Helen O’Donnell.


What made you want to do your apprenticeship qualification?

[Beverley] I’ve worked within Finance for around seven years and studying for my AAT is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was nervous due to the fact I have been out of full-time education for over 10 years.

The main reason I wanted to study was to gain formal recognition for the skills I use on a day-to-day basis in my current job and to develop my finance knowledge along the way. I also hoped studying would be a career boost and it would help to open up new job opportunities.

[Darren] My interest in doing my apprenticeship qualification came from a general interest in the subject area; I didn’t have prior experience in this line of work but had a slight knowledge and wanted to expand upon that while also carving myself a pathway into the industry.

[Helen] I wanted to switch careers and knew that this would require additional learning. An apprenticeship was a great way of gaining workplace experience, the knowledge of a Degree and being able to apply the two together while maintaining an income.


How has your qualification supported you in your role?

[Beverley] My AAT qualification has given me practical and real-world accounting and finance skills. Not only this but studying has given me a boost in confidence and a belief in my abilities. It has also given me a new-found focus and drive to do well and better myself. I have been successful in securing a secondment to the Strategic Financial Management Team and hope I can continue to learn and develop my knowledge of NHSBSA Finance.

[Darren] My qualification has supported me in my role in multiple ways and provided benefits to my team and the wider business. I have gained a large amount of knowledge and have been able to apply that in my day-to-day work and my home life, while also using the skills I have gained to train other staff members, providing awareness sessions throughout the business.

[Helen] My colleagues have been incredibly supportive throughout my degree. When starting at NHSBSA, I used to shadow colleagues and arrange meetings to find out more about what they do and how different processes/jobs work.

I had a mentor in place who helped me assess my day-to-day tasks and recognise development opportunities while finding ways to implement the learning from my course. The learning from my degree has come in useful in so many ways – something I think will continue on for a long time to come!

Everyone had endless patience with me which I’m so thankful for. Now, I try and do the same for colleagues. I was able to mentor an apprentice in the cohort after me which was a great experience.


What impact did COVID-19 have on your ability to continue with your qualification?

[Beverley] When we went into lockdown in March, I was due to sit my final exam, so this was a bit of a blow. I originally chose classroom-based learning, as I felt it was the best option for me – I enjoyed my day at college and the fact it was away from home and office-life meant I could focus fully. Given I had a toddler at home for the first two months of lockdown, work/study time became difficult. My tutor, however, has been fully supportive – recording Zoom sessions, for example, so that I could catch up on an evening when things were less hectic.

[Darren] COVID-19 had next to no impact on my studies due to the remote-working resources being readily available when I needed them. My apprenticeship provider used OneFile, which allowed me to send and receive files, and gain feedback, very easily.

[Helen] I was coming to the end of my degree when Covid struck. Luckily, my project was very much a one-person job with occasional check-ins with my supervisor over video. It was a little bit more complex trying to explain different parts over video chat, however, frequent check-ins and asking if I wasn’t sure helped.


What are your next steps now that you have completed your apprenticeship qualification?

[Beverley] I am due to start my Level 4 AAT and I hope to continue in my studies. AAT is a great progression route into professional membership and chartered studies.

[Darren] Upon completing my qualification, I have moved into a role that I am interested in and that suits my working style. As well as this, I am striving to gain more qualifications and am currently working towards a very highly sought-after qualification.

[Helen] I secured a permanent role after a year and a half of working at NHSBSA and have since moved department from Technology to Data and Insight where I now work as a Data Visualisation Developer (a cross between web design and data analytics).

I plan to continue in this role and undertake further learning where possible to improve my skills; myself and my colleagues have recently completed a PowerBI course so using this learning in my role is my next aim.

I am also now the Diversity and Inclusion Network Co-Chair where I aim to increase awareness and improve opportunities for those with protected characteristics.


Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone who is considering upskilling themselves through an apprenticeship qualification?

[Beverley] I would advise anyone who is considering an apprenticeship to go for it. If I can do it at 37 with a young child, anyone can. It’s a great way to boost your career!

[Darren] I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship qualification as it is a very effective way of learning, while also gaining real work experience in the field you are interested in. I don’t think a generic classroom can give you the same experience and expertise in an area.

[Helen] See what’s out there, talk to employers, and weigh up the benefits of the course.

And once you get there: be patient, make sure you set time aside to do coursework and try to tackle one thing at a time. It’s worth it!

Thinking about an apprenticeship? Learn more about working for us and get in touch to discuss potential opportunities which may be available.