Christina McKelvie MSP has made an impression with Dental Nursing Modern Apprentices at a practice in Hamilton.
The MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse visited L&H Dentalcare to meet trainees who combine their work with tuition from New College Lanarkshire.
The visit coincided with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which runs until March 10 and shines a spotlight on the benefits that apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the economy.
Ms McKelvie met two Modern Apprentices, Danielle Key and Gemma McIntyre, and spoke with two of New College Lanarkshire’s Dental Nursing Workbase Assessors, Karen Lipp and Shona Haddow.
Ms McKelvie said: “It’s always really interesting for me to see the work that’s going on in my constituency for the apprenticeship programme.
“When you see the dedication and commitment of the young people who have secured employment or training here, and you see how that benefits the business as well, it’s just superb.
“It was great to meet the apprentices and hear their side of their story. The real successes here are the young people getting opportunities, making the best of those opportunities, and having a career path.
“This career path, especially for young women, will lift them into a much higher qualification framework and open up opportunities for more highly-paid employment.”
She was taken on a tour of the four-storey practice on Cadzow Street by Practice Administrator Sharon Kearney, who has worked for the business for 19 years after starting out as a Dental Nurse.
Sharon Kearney said: “For us, we wouldn’t have the team that we do without working with New College Lanarkshire. Every nurse in here has come from our relationship with the College.
“Apprentices receive great training through the College and that just gets enhanced when they are working here.”
The practice, which comprises a team of 29 people, has worked with New College Lanarkshire and its legacy institution Coatbridge College for more than ten years to offer work placements and apprenticeships.
Danielle Key, 18, from Ashgill, near Larkhall, was a student of HNC Dental Nursing at the College’s Coatbridge Campus who was offered an apprenticeship only a few days into a work placement at L&H Dentalcare.
Danielle said: “It’s been brilliant so far and it’s probably the best decision I’ve made. I realised how good a place this was to work, I’m still getting the qualification and I’m working at the same time.
“The people I work with are so nice and I can use the facilities at the College and speak to staff when I need support.”
Gemma McIntyre, 18, from Scotstoun in Glasgow’s West End, started her Modern Apprenticeship with the company in October and hopes to complete her studies by December.
Gemma said: “I’ve loved it – it’s the best opportunity I’ve had and in such a good practice.
“You’re in the working environment and you’re studying at the same time – and, of course, you’re getting paid.
“When I work with the hygienist in particular, there’s quite a lot of work to do, and my portfolio can be quite demanding to keep on top of, but I have the support of Karen [Lipp] and Shona [Haddow] when I need it.”
Shona Haddow qualified in 2008 after completing her Modern Apprenticeship and worked for L&H Dentalcare for nine years.
In her new role as a Workbase Assessor for New College Lanarkshire, she travels all over the Central Belt and as far afield as the Scottish Borders to oversee students and apprentices.
Shona said: “With Dental Nursing, there are so many routes you can take after achieving a qualification and becoming registered with the General Dental Council.
“You can train as a Dental Hygienist, Dental Radiography Operator, Practice Manager, Lecturer, or, as I have, become a Workbase Assessor.
“The employment opportunities are many and varied and a Modern Apprenticeship really gives you the confidence to explore different options.”
New College Lanarkshire currently trains around 20 Dental Nursing Modern Apprentices in addition to having 254 Dental Nursing students.
Dr Alasdair Allan MSP officially opened the state-of-the-art Dental and Science Facilities at the College’s Coatbridge Campus in February 2016. These include an intra-oral camera and a ‘Phantom Head lab’ to allow simulated learning on model heads.
Dental Nursing Workbase Assessor Karen Lipp added: “Modern Apprenticeships give us an alternative route to employment, professional registration and articulation on to higher level dental nursing programmes.”
New College Lanarkshire also offers Modern Apprenticeships in Business Administration, Computing Hardware and Software, Engineering Maintenance, Engineering Manufacturing, Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, Vehicle Accident Repair, Electronic Fire & Security Systems, Fabrication & Welding and Hairdressing.
Courses are delivered through workplace assessment, day release or block release at one of the College’s six campuses.
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