“I’m a better leader thanks to my apprenticeship”

Steve Yardley, 43 from Leyland was looking to further develop and learn new leadership skills. He was appointed as a Director of Operations at Huddersfield Hospital, part of Circle Health Group in March 2023 with his journey up the ladder starting in 2000, when he joined the organisation as a Marketing Officer.

Since then Steve has had numerous roles in private healthcare such as a Patient Administration Manager and a Hotel Manager. As a Director of Operations, Steve plays an important role in the day-to-day running of the hospital, and he decided to join an apprenticeship programme to help progress his career.

“I wanted to find a way to further progress my career. Not only in the role I play at the hospital, but I also wanted the opportunity to develop my interpersonal skills as a leader. I hadn’t considered doing an apprenticeship, but it was the perfect opportunity for me to develop my skills in the position that I hold.

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“I could do my course and still earn a full-time wage, despite working in a busy environment,” Steve said.

Director of Operations at Huddersfield Hospital, Steve YardleyDirector of Operations at Huddersfield Hospital, Steve Yardley
Director of Operations at Huddersfield Hospital, Steve Yardley

Steve who grew up, in Lancashire, decided to explore his options and after having a conversation with senior management at the hospital, he was enrolled on to a Level 5 Operations or Departmental Manager apprenticeship programme in 2020. The course Steve joined was accredited by Quality Assurance.

As part of the course, apprentices learn about managing teams and projects in line with a private, public, or voluntary organisation's operational or departmental strategy. Some of the key modules included; planning, organising, and managing resources to deliver required outcomes, being able to monitor budgets and provide reports and learning about managing talent and performance.

“The Level 5 Operations or Departmental Manager apprenticeship was the perfect way for me to further develop my skills. It also gave me the confidence that I could move forward in my career and push myself towards my end goal which is to be an Executive Director at a hospital. It was daunting at first, but I knew the apprenticeship route was the right environment for me,” Steve said.

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Steve went on to say: “The best part of the apprenticeship programme was the workshop elements of the training.I’ve always preferred coursework to exams so this was a big plus point for me. I also think a change in my allocated tutor was a big turning point in my progression, sometimes the right support can make all the difference. The change benefited me and gave me a different perspective and thought process about how to tackle the apprenticeship and ultimately achieve the desired outcome.”

Finishing his qualification in March 2021, Steve has now achieved his goal and believes his apprenticeship played a pivotal role in making him a better leader.

Reflecting on his experiences, Steve admits that it has not always been easy.

“The course was challenging at times. Balancing the time required to complete the apprenticeship with the busy demands of a senior role within a hospital emerging from the coronavirus pandemic was extremely hard.

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“However, there was a sense of relief when I completed my apprenticeship. I had a sense of satisfaction that I had been able to complete the programme and gain a decent grade, especially given the logistical challenges and that several people on my cohort decide to withdraw from the course.”

Following the completion of his apprenticeship, Steve has become a major advocate for apprenticeships, encouraging colleagues to make the most of further educational opportunities.

“I’ve become an advocate for the apprenticeship route and support any of my team who wish to develop further. I’ve previously recruited a Medical Secretary apprentice who is almost due to complete and have recently advertised for an apprentice within our Materials department as I have seen the benefit and structure these programmes provide,” Steve said.

“The apprenticeship programmes provide top-class training, whilst at the same time it allows employees to still earn a full-time wage and that is fantastic.”

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In 2023 alone, Circle Health Group supported over 200 apprentices who completed apprenticeship qualifications. Eleven of these apprentices came from Huddersfield Hospital.

Since launching the apprenticeship programme in 2017, 35 different bespoke programmes aimed at recruiting and retaining talent in clinical and non-clinical roles. Have been launched by Circle Health Group across the UK.

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